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By KArrHARiNE Hooker 




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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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http://www.archive.org/details/bywaysinsouthernOOhookuoft 




Ca^right, X901, I9i< 

Kathakinb Hooker 



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PREFACE 




HOSE who have known Italy longest 
and loved her best hold that her interest 
and beauty are inexhaustible, and, no 
matter how fondly the wanderer has 
explored, how sympathetically he has 
lingered to listen and to look, there is 
never an end to discovery. Therefore, 
there will never be an end to the mak- 
ing of books about her. 
This one deals with southern Tuscany, a little country, 
but with a great history; a region not so striking to the 
casual eye as some more frequented ones, but with an 
absorbing fascination for those who try to penetrate its 
reticence. 

For the traveler who has this end in view, Siena is 
naturally the beautiful and comfortable base from which 
to make explorations — to set forth from, to return to, to 
rest in — offering the knowledge and the means of travel by 
which this territory may best be seen. No gate of hers but 
opens toward some new loveliness, some avenue of country 
beauty, some point of history and romance; and the 
humble dwellers along the way, cheerful and helpful, both 
welcome the traveler and speed him on his way. I have 
purposely dwelt more at length upon those places that 
have been least written about in English and briefly on 
those that others have already described. 

It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that spring and 
autumn are the seasons for the rambler here. The winter 
is too rigorous and the summer too hot and both should be 
avoided. 



PREFACE 

There is a system of automobile-diligences that con- 
nect the towns, but it must be confessed that they move 
with a rapidity that leaves Httle opportunity for observa- 
tion. Private conveyances may be had in Siena and, with 
frequent stops and repeated adjurations to the driver, 
whose idea of pleasing patrons is to carry them still 
fasterthan the public motors,one mayat least form a super- 
ficial acquaintance with the country, in which the ex- 
cellent maps of the Italian Touring Club will prove an in- 
valuable assistance. 




VUl 



CONTENTS 

PAOB 

CHAPTER I 
San Galgano, Chiusidino, Massa Marittima, Roccateierighi ' ' 3 

CHAPTER II 

Roccastrada, Castello di Pietra, The Legend of Pia dei Tolomei,The Marem- 

ma and Grosseto, Vetulonia, Castiglione della Pescaja - - -22 

CHAPTER III 
The Legend of Bella Marsilia, Talamone, Albegna, Orbetello - -36 

CHAPTER IV 
Tiburzi the Brigand -------- j^ 

CHAPTER V 

Magliano, Pereia, Scansano, Roccalbegna, Rocchette di Fazio, CampagnaticOy 

Paganico --------- (Jj 

CHAPTER VI 
Montalcino I --------- p^ 

CHAPTER VII 
Montalcino II --------- J07 

CHAPTER VIII 
The Vol d'Orcia, Radicofani, The Legend of Re Giannino - - - 121 

CHAPTER IX 

San Salvatore, Piancastagnajo, The Legend of "The Little Hebrew" Santa 

Fiora ---------- 141 

CHAPTER X 
Arcidosso, Triana --------- x^8 

CHAPTER XI 
The Merse^ Rapolano -------- j^g 

is 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XII '"* 

Lucignano, Marciano, Torrita, Montichiello, Chianciano, Chiusi, SarUano 187 

CHAPTER XIII 
Cetona, Badia a Spiruta, San Giovanni d'Asso, MonUfoUonico, Montisi 21$ 

CHAPTER XIV 
MonUlifre, Trequanda, Manciano, MonUnurano, Saturnia, Sovana - 22g 

CHAPTER XV 
Pitigliano --------.- g^g 

CHAPTER XVI 

Sorano --_-__>_.. g^g 




The halftones of " Byways in Southern Tus- 
cany" are made from photographs taken by 

MARIAN O. HOOKER 
Sketches and decorations are by George Carl- 
son, made principally from photographs by 
Marian 0. Hooker 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

[FULL PAGE] 
Lucignano. Porta San Giusto ----- Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

San Galgano ----------4 

Chiusidino ------ --__6 

Massa Marittima. The Castle -------10 

Roccatederighi ---------16 

Roccastrada - - - -- -- - - -22 

Castello di Pletra ---------26 

Castiglione della Pescaja --------32 

A Farm House ---------54 

Magliano. Piazza San Martino -------58 

Magliano. The Town Wall 66 

Pereta -----------70 

Roccalbegna ----------74 

Roccalbegna. The Castle --------78 

Rocchette di Fazio ---------80 

Istia d'Ombrone ---------82 

Paganico. Porta Gorella --------84 

Paganicx) ---------- 92 

San Antimo ----------96 

Montalcino. The Osservanza ------- 100 

Montalcino. The Castle --------108 

A Farm House near Montalcino - - - - - - -112 

Rocca d'Orcia - - - -- - - - - 122 

Ripa d'Orcia ---------- 124 

Campiglia d'Orcia - - - - - - - - !>, - 128 

Spedaletto ------...- 130 

ziii 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

rACniG PAGE 

Radicofani. A Fountain in the Town - - - - - -I34 

Radicofani. Rums of the Fortress 138 

Monte AmiaU --------- 142 

Piancastagnajo. The Fortress ------- 146 

Arcidosso. Town and Castle - - - - - - -158 

Triana 160 

A Villa In Val di Merse 176 

Lucignano. Porta San Giovanni ------- 192 

Marciano. The Castle -------- 194 

Torrita. Porta Gavma -------- 196 

Massaini ---------- 204 

A Street m Montichiello -------- 206 

Chianciano. A Street -------- 208 

Sarteano Castle. The Drawbridge ------ 210 

Cetona- -- --216 

Cetona. Castle Tower 218 

Badia a Spineta --------- 220 

San Giovanni d'Asso. Church of San Pietro in Villore - - - 222 

MontefoUonico --------- 224 

Montisi ---------- 226 

Montelifre ---------- 23* 

Montelifre. A Gateway -------- 234 

Trequanda ---------- 236 

The Madonna of Montemerano ------- 238 

Satumia. Etruscan Gateway ------- 240 

Sovana Castle (Suana) -------- 242 

Pitigliano ---------- 256 

Pitigliano. The Aqueduct ------- 258 

Pitigliano. In the Court of the Orsini Castle - - - - 260 

Pitigliano. Vicolo Venezia ------- 268 

Pitigliano. Via Sovana -------- 270 

Pitigliano. Porta Sovana -».------ 272 

Sorano ----------- 276 

Sorano, from the River -----___ 278 

Sorano. Porul of the Castle ------- 282 

xiv 



BYWAYS IN 
SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Massa MARirriMA. The Upper Town 



CHAPTER I 

San Galgano — Chiusidino — Massa Marittima — 
roccatederighi 

MONG so many roads all beckoning 
toward differing delights in the corner 
of Tuscany lying before us to explore, 
it would be hard to choose but for the 
certainty that not one will be without 
its own charm and reward. Yet the 
first impulse is toward the west, the 
shore of the Tyrhennian Sea, whither 
the imagination irresistibly flies because 
it is there that the Maremma lies, mysterious, forbidden 
land so long avoided by the stranger who, whatever his 
desire to enter it, seldom chose to pay the penalty too often 
exacted. It is not for beauty's sake that one is drawn to- 
ward it. Beauty is there for those who recognize it but 
it does not coerce the indifferent. Along that coast there 
are few salient features that suggest its unparalleled 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

history. It is memory and fancy that must deal with it 
and picture the march of the ages as they have passed over 
it and looked upon its strange, vivid blossomings, its 
lapses to decay and death and its final retrieval. So if we 
yield to its call we leave Siena by the Porta San Marco 
and take the highway that leads through Chiusidino and 
Massa Marittima toward the setting sun. 

It is a country rich with cultivation. Vines and olives, 
olives and vines lie on either hand, and heights dark with 
ilex or green and gold with chestnuts, while the roadside is 
bordered with wild flowers, among which the poppy pre- 
vails and flaunts its glowing scarlet above the rest. We 
pass tiny villages and farm houses, there are small streams 
to cross and the River Merse which here turns and doubles 
upon itself keeps us company now and then in its wind- 
ings. Before traveling far there is Montarrente, a small 
but fine old ruin on a slight eminence above the road, and 
a few miles beyond it we emerge from the hills at the edge 
of a level treeless meadow, and find ourselves opposite the 
noble remnant of the great monastery of San Galgano. 
There is no other such fine example of pure Gothic in all 
Italy as what remains standing of this church, nor per- 
haps anywhere in Tuscany an ecclesiastical establishment 
that has had a more august and typical history. In- 
timately connected with Siena, it would be hard to ex- 
aggerate the importance of their relation in an age when 
the Church was in its completest ascendency. San 
Galgano became a widespreading estate of many activities 
and great wealth but with its gradual decay no evidence 
has been left of its numerous buildings excepting the lofty, 
roofless walls of the church. This is approached through 
the mud of an unclean farm yard, this stately ruin, worthy 
of a position peaceful and sequestered, but here treated 
with so little respect. With some indignation you wait 
while the contadinoy who is the custodian, unlocks an iron 



\ 




San Galgano. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

gate and you pass through and stand upon the turf which 
now covers the floor of the nave. 

All that offended is now shut away and the dignity and 
solemnity of the place remind you that San Galgano is un- 
conscious of the petty things outside its quiet walls and 
you feel only the pensiveness that comes with the con- 
templation of an exquisite thing that is gradually passing 
away. The empty circle of the great rose window, the 
shattered carving in the pointed arches, the broken capi- 
tals that enrich the pilasters, are not here draped with the 
graceful creepers that sometimes reconcile us to the decay 
they partly conceal, but they are not missed here for their 
absence allows one to study the grandeur of the architec- 
ture and the beauty of the detail. 

The Cistercian monastery to which this church belonged 
was founded in the beginning of the thirteenth century by 
Ildebrando, Bishop of Volterra, one of the Pannocchieschi, 
a family famous in that region. The ground chosen was 
consecrated by the life of the hermit and saint, Galgano of 
Chuisidino. To this spot he is said to have fled from the 
luxurious and disorderly life of his youth, leaving behind 
him his family and his affianced bride. Here in the wilder- 
ness he struck his sword into the rock which received and 
clamped it, leaving the cross-shaped hilt upright that he 
might worship there. Hidden from his friends he bound 
himself to the ascetic life. He fed upon what fruits and 
roots he could gather in the woods about him, and soon 
came to be regarded as a holy man. In time his fame 
reached Chiusidino and his yearning mother hastened to 
find him, taking with her the girl he was to have married, 
clad in rich robes and adorned with jewels, that they might 
persuade him to renounce his determination and return 
with them to his home. It was all in vain; he reproved his 
mother and admonished his bride against all earthly love, 
and bidding them a final farewell turned from them to 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

resume his prayers. Such was the severity of his penance 
that he Hved but a year longer. In the same century he 
was canonized and a few years later the monastery erected 
in his honor was begun. 

Within sight of it the little town of Chiusidino lies, 
crowning the summit of a hill. She looks out upon as fine a 
horizon as any castello in the countryside, and can signal 
to her neighbors of Monticiano on the east and high Bel- 
forte on the north, and look down upon the Merse, not 
yet grown to the magnitude of a river as it flows below. 
Chiusidino is ill prepared to receive strangers and her 
small inn is not inviting, but one may lunch there well 
enough, and I was waited upon by a very small boy, who 
assuming a large white apron bravely carried himself with 
the air of a practised cameriere. When I issued forth to 
look for the chapel of San Galgano a comely young girl 
offered to show me the way. There are few villages so 
obscure that fashion does not reach them, so I was not 
much surprised to note her pretty violet gown, her broad 
lace collar, and the modish cut of her sleeves. 

In a narrow rock-paved street we found the tiny chapel, 
but sadly decayed and dishonored, for until lately it has 
been used to stable goats in. The government has now 
catalogued its beautiful Sassetta altarpiece, yet it still re- 
mains in the mould and darkness of the closed chapel in a 
nearly ruined condition. The lovely madonna, the angels 
crowned with olive, the mellow color of rich fabrics, shine 
out of the obscurity of their wretched housing and make 
the beholder feel the neglect of such a picture intolerable. 

We walked away and threaded the streets of the village. 
There are no architectural attractions, and it cannot be 
denied that there is a general lack of cleanliness, but pres- 
ently we came out upon a northern rampart and looked 
beyond our immediate surroundings. This was the 
moment in which to praise the view and the fine air. 

6 



r 




Chiusidino. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

"Bella veduta, buon* aria!" always elicits an enthusiastic 
response and a glow of happy local pride, and for the rest I 
did not wonder that the place was not cleaner when I 
learned of the scant water supply, and noticed the long 
and steep descent to the well where washing is carried on, 
as I passed it when, a little later in the day, I resumed my 
journey toward Massa Marittima. 

The way lies through wooded hills and under cliffs over- 
hung by robust shrubs, with here and there a high- 
perched village like Bocchegiano or Prata, and past some 
of the mines that made Massa rich. The women we en- 
countered now and again by the wayside follow a stern 
fashion in dress that places them at a hopeless disadvant- 
age in regard to good looks. Young and old wear a stiff 
kerchief covering the head and tied under the chin, and 
surmounting this a man's felt hat. Beauty can hardly 
triumph over such a handicap, but an immemorial fashion 
is not to be lightly discarded in Tuscany, and doubtless it 
does not conceal bright eyes and rosy cheeks from those 
who have an eye for them. 

In time one feels the salt air from the west, and the road 
begins to climb the flank of a fine spur thirteen hundred 
feet high, that outpost of the mountains upon which 
Massa sits. It is a glorious position; on three sides the 
land drops away from it, and the city surmounts the top, 
covering it in two quite distinct benches which hold the 
upper and lower town, as they are called. From its com- 
manding ridge it looks out to the south and west over un- 
dulating foothills and thence across the flat plain of the 
Maremma to the sea, and if it is clear the blue outline of 
the Island of Elba may be discerned. 

Having reached the lower town one proceeds along the 
principal street to turn in at the Locanda Benini, a toler- 
able inn presided over by a big, handsome landlady, whose 
coral beads become her mightily. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Further exploration shows that this street ends in a fine 
triangular piazza where are the communal buildings and 
the beautiful cathedral. The last-named stands a little 
above the level of the others, and you mount to it by 
broad stone steps, accommodated to its outline in such a 
manner as to give the effect of a fitting pedestal. The 
arcaded facade, the slender tower with its grouped win- 
dows, the dome, are all dignified and harmonious, and the 
position of the building, resting as it does upon the outer 
edge of the town and not crowded against by other struc- 
tures, gives every advantage in viewing it. The interior 
is full of interest : at the entrance are two columns and two 
pilasters of travertine, for some reason left free of the flat 
whitewash that covers all the rest. The sacristan declares 
that this disfigurement is soon to be removed. Upon the 
walls are various archaic reliefs, and, besides a very fine 
baptismal font of the thirteenth century, covered with 
Byzantine carving, there is the sarcophagus of the saint to 
whom the cathedral is dedicated, called the House of San 
Cerbone, much enriched with deeply cut panels. Over a 
doorway the life of the saint is portrayed; especially 
spirited is the march of the geese who are said to have 
accompanied him by his own order when he went to 
Rome, that he might not appear empty-handed before the 
Pope. From the window of the sacristy there is a charming 
view. 

Opposite the Cathedral is the Palazzo del Podesta, very 
solid and quite unornamented but for the beauty of its 
Gothic windows. Of these the ones of the upper row re- 
tain their original form, but from those of the lower line the 
mullions have been ruthlessly sawed, and square, shuttered 
openings fitted in. The Palazzo Communale close by soars 
to a great height and terminates in square battlements, 
while its windows have been left unspoiled. Quite marked 
upon its facade are the small bracketed apertures, to be 

8 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Massa Marittima. The Cathedral 



seen also on other Tuscan palaces, whose principal service 
was to hold the supports for temporary platforms, from 
which soldiers could fight in time of attack by enemies 
from without or rebels from within. There is other in- 
teresting architecture in Massa, rich color of walls and 
beauty of ornament, and there are many beguiling turns 
and nooks. I was glad to find in a sequestered garden- 
spot a rustic theatre dedicated to Felice Cavalotti, and I 
hope his charming and witty comedies are often given 
there. 

Few towns have had a more agitated history, but be- 
yond certain warlike reminders, its air to-day is re- 
markably peaceful. It is uncommonly clean for one thing, 
and the people are courteous and helpful to strangers. 
Who but an Italian gentleman, taking note of the interest 
of a foreigner lingering near his home, would invite her into 
his house and, introducing her to his wife, convey her 
through the pleasant rooms of his dwelling to reach a 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

balcony where the best view of the surroundings could be 
had? Yet this may happen in Massa. The kindhest 
hospitalities seem to be the natural expression of this 
people. Strolling through the streets one comes here and 
there upon the sacred initials with which Saint Brandano 
signed his presence all over Italy, greatest saint of the 
fifteenth century he has been called. Born in dark days of 
hatred and violence, he everywhere preached fervently 
against vice, and urged peace and reconciliation through- 
out the land, with a flaming zeal that reached the hearts 
and consciences, not only of the humble, but of those in 
high places, and wrought marvels during the forty years 
of his labors. 

There is a pretty story concerning the origin of the 
divine monogram, which says that a maker of dice came 
to him one day and remonstrated against his exhortations. 

"You pity the poor," he said, "but what is that to us 
if you take away our living? The people no longer buy my 
wares." 

The saint looked at him smiling, and presently traced for 
him the letters I. H. S., bidding him cast aside his wicked 
trade and, instead, inscribe the holy letters upon small 
panels and sell them in place of those incitements to an 
evil life by which he had hitherto made his living. This the 
man did and prospered thereby. 

There are two ways of ascending to the upper town of 
Massa; the more direct one is of greater steepness, but 
there is a second, mounting by a gradual slope on the west 
side. At the top is the vast fortress, built in 1337 by Siena 
to secure her sovereignty over the city. In spite of the fact 
that in the eighteenth century a large part of it was torn 
down, the castle is still a great and impressive one. Its 
widespread remains both frame and crown the height. 
The long, irregular Hues of wall with their corbelled 
archetti are shadowed at intervals by shrubs that spring 

10 




u 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

luxuriantly from their foundations, the high arched gate- 
ways, the massive towers, show time-abraded surfaces 
where small plants spring from crevices or ivy drops a 
verdant curtain, and the whole forms a picturesque and 
beautiful survival of the mediaeval time. Two things that 
belong to a much earlier period remain. A tower of quite 
incredible height once rose from this summit, the pride of 
the people, who called it the Candlestick. This belonged 
to the days when their warlike bishops ruled them, and 
the castle of these bishops stood there also. Both are now 
mere remnants, for the Sienese cut down the tower to suit 
the plan of their fortress, and the Bishop's Palace is so 
reduced as to be quite insignificant; and now the great 
enclosure holds the upper town with its streets and its 
more modern houses, and I fancy the thoughts of the busy 
population seldom dwell upon what happened in those 
early centuries of siege and slaughter. 

It is hard to assign a date for the founding of these 
ancient hill towns, but we know that by the middle of the 
ninth century Pope Gregory IV had declared Massa a city 
and the seat of a bishop. The bishops of Massa thereafter 
flourished greatly; they were established in the upper 
town in a strong castle, Castello Monteregio, and governed 
the people as feudal princes. Besides privileges of tem- 
poral possession derived directly from the Pope, it had be- 
come a settled custom that wealthy transgressors might 
avoid penance and obtain absolution through gifts of 
value to the church, and thus lands, fortresses, and mines 
in the neighborhood of Massa came into the hands of her 
bishops. Early in her history Massa had become strangely 
divided, the upper town and the lower being as separated 
politically as they were naturally, the bishops, as we have 
said, ruling the rocky height above, while on the bench 
below the people endeavored to carry on the forms of a 
communal government. It was not, however, until early 

II 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

In the thirteenth century that Massa was able to declare 
herself a republic. Being a sanguine people the poor 
Massetani on this happy occasion chose a lion rampant as 
emblem of the energy with which they intended to defend 
their liberties, the red ground on which he appeared in- 
dicating their Ghibelline sympathies, as it was the color of 
that party. 

They were naturally a peaceful and industrious people, 
and with every respite which freedom from hostilities 
allowed them, hastened to till their fertile soil and operate 
their rich mines, so that at this period they prospered and 
became of importance among their sister commonwealths, 
in spite of the fact that in common with all such com- 
munities they were frequently embroiled with the feudal 
lords about them, of whom the Pannocchieschi, the 
Ardengheschi, and the Aldobrandeschi, great nobles of the 
Maremma, were the most powerful, and in all Italy none 
more lawless and unscrupulous could be found. The 
Pannocchieschi alone possessed twelve castles not far from 
the city. In these contests Massa like other places before 
her called upon neighboring republics for aid, and with the 
same disastrous results. Still for the time being she con- 
tinued to grow and to hold her own, and the turbulent 
nobles began to realize there were advantages from such a 
course, and applied for citizenship in the town. This being 
granted, they began to build, each family its own palace 
within the walls, and in consequence there began a new 
series of misfortunes for Massa. Quarrels and intrigues of 
course grew hotter than ever, for in such close proximity the 
famiHes inevitably fought, and they then proceeded to ally 
themselves now with this power and now with that,of those 
who had already been appealed to formerly by Massa her- 
self. Some of these ungovernable newcomers had establish- 
ed themselves in the upper town, some in the lower, and 
strange combinations resulted; so that at one time the 

12 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Pannocchieschi who had built in the upper town were 
actually leagued with Siena, while the lower town was 
supported by Pisa. 

Having invited disorderto take up its abodewith her, and 
torn within as well as assailed from without, Massa from 
being a rich community began to suffer from the disloca- 
tion of all her industries. Her lands were devastated, her 
fields were untilled, her mines unworked, while the poison 
of the deteriorating Maremma had begun to undermine the 
strength of her people. Siena, looking on, did not fail to 
remind her of what value she might be as a permanent 
protector, bringing security and tranquility to the dis- 
tressed republic. At last the heads of the upper and lower 
towns came together in the Cathedral and agreed to settle 
their differences, to forget the injuries, robberies, and 
homicides of the past, and swear to a peace which should 
endure to the end of time. Following this it was decided 
to accept the protection of Siena, the more so that they 
lay under certain pecuniary obligations to that city, and 
Siena on her side made the most flattering and affectionate 
promises of aid and support. With mutual courtesies and 
congratulations the alliance was cemented, and the 
Massetani drew a long breath and looked forward to the 
enjoyment of that perpetual peace just secured to them 
under the benevolent guardianship of a powerful friend. 

Scarcely was Siena in command than, to the dismay of 
the people of Massa, she began to build a huge fortress in 
the upper town, calling upon the citizens themselves for 
great sums of money to be used for its construction. Com- 
prehending the menace of this, and reduced to desperation, 
they combined in a widespread conspiracy to drive the 
Sienese from the city, but before their plans were com- 
pleted they were betrayed by certain of their own number 
and their leaders carried off to Siena, where two of them 
were beheaded and the rest condemned to prison or 

13 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 



exile. Work upon the fortress then went on as before, 
and was so urgently pressed that within a year it was 
completed. 

The independence of Massa was now gone, the de- 
creased population suffered under intolerable taxation, and 
the plague of 1348 came to further enfeeble them. One 
wonders that any spirit of defiance survived in a people so 
oppressed, but agreeing together that it was better to die 
in arms than to drag on an existence so miserable, they 
rose once more against Siena, drove out her podestdy and 
attacked her fortress on the hill. This proved too strong 
to be taken by assault, and they began to burrow des- 
perately under the foundations, in the hope of compassing 
its destruction in that way. At this, Siena, in alarm for 
her garrison, sent a force against them, and the miserable 
Massetani, broken in battle below the walls, saw their 
city entered by a pitiless soldiery who set fire where they 
could, and destroying and plundering as they went, 














Massa Marittima. The Castlb 



•'»«■ 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

carried off with them whatever they could collect from a 
population already stricken with the direst poverty. 

After this the despondent people seem not to have lifted 
their voices again for several years, excepting when they 
faintly supplicated Siena that the taxes they could not pay 
might be lightened. At the end of this unhappy century 
they were again visited by plague and famine, and in 1408 
the lowest point was reached when Massa, hardly more 
than an empty shell, held but four hundred souls. The 
families of the nobles had withdrawn to live in Siena, and 
most of the humbler citizens, without occupation or re- 
source, had gone to join the companies of mercenary 
soldiers whose bands ranged Italy at that period. The 
poor remnant became the prey of robbers, and Massa was 
threatened with complete depopulation. 

During these years Siena herself had also suffered ter- 
ribly from war, pestilence, and famine, and she now be- 
thought herself that in her weakened condition the 
conciliation of even so feeble a tributary town as Massa 
might be expedient, and that unless it was succored it bade 
fair to be entirely abandoned. For this reason, "and not 
from generosity of soul," says Dr. Luigi Petrocchi (the 
loyal historian of the stricken city from whose volume I 
have drawn many of the facts for this sketch), she began 
to study the means for ameliorating conditions, to the end 
that Massa should be gradually repopulated. In fact, with 
encouragement and exemption from certain taxes the 
number of inhabitants slowly increased during the re- 
mainder of the century. We will hope that for that time 
Massa enjoyed some measure of relief and tranquillity 
even though it was not to last, for in 1552 the plague again 
stalked through the land and left behind it complete 
desolation. Uncultivated, undrained, roamed over by 
wild beasts, there was hardly the possibility of rehabilita- 
tion. In this extremity the people of Massa and other 

15 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

villages in the vicinity, such as Chiusidino, Roccatederighi, 
and Roccastrada actually united in forming an association 
for protection against wolves. These animals had become 
so bold as to enter towns in the night and attack any who 
had unwarily lain down to sleep in the piazzas or doorways. 
It was agreed that a generous bounty should be offered for 
all wolves killed and brought in to the authorities. 

The time during which Massa Marittima can be said to 
have a separate history now draws to a close, though she 
was yet to undergo the horrors of another siege and a re- 
newed attack of the plague; but her fortunes had long been 
indissolubly joined to those of Siena, and by the middle of 
the sixteenth century she passed into the hands of Cosimo 
dei Medici. 

A tragic story this, dwelling, as seems inevitable in any 
brief recital, more upon crimes, catastrophes, and wars 
than upon the long, recuperative intervals when life went 
on more normally, children were born and grew up to fill 
the gaps in the population, and fields were sown and har- 
vested. Massa having lived through it all is now a pleas- 
ant, orderly town, full of a busy, cheerful coming and 
going, and with a general air of thrift. 

While sitting in the dimly-lighted Benini dining-room 
on the evening of my arrival, a subdued noise as of many 
voices and many footsteps reached my ears, and minute 
by minute increased in volume. Dinner being over, I 
sought a window from which to look down upon the street, 
and found that the whole population seemed to be col- 
lected there, filling the narrow thoroughfare from side to 
side. 

It was not a stationary crowd, however, but a slowly 
moving procession, for men and women, girls and boys, 
were walking steadily at a moderate pace, seemingly 
fixed by common consent. Complete decorum was main- 
tained; there was no hurrying nor any attempt of the 

i6 




Roccatederighi. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

impatient, if there were any such, to push past those 
in front, and as they walked they talked; there was no 
loud laughter, no vociferous tone, no rising to a higher 
pitch in order to talk down a companion. It was in fact 
a sort of ambulatory conversazione of the most amicable 
kind. The streets of many Italian towns are populous at 
night, but anything quite like the serious unanimity of 
Massa I had not before encountered. It pleased me and I 
watched it for some time. I soon observed that the same 
groups and couples continually reappeared, and this 
showed that having passed to a certain point on this 
principal street, they crossed into a parallel one by which 
they returned, to emerge again upon the main thorough- 
fare. I also noted that they were dressed for this social 
ceremony with a certain smartness, and altogether it im- 
pressed me as a felicitous and civilized custom that spoke 
well for the people of this comparatively isolated little city. 

Since during a stay in Massa you ascend and descend the 
declivities and inclines of her streets, often standing still to 
gaze out from her mountain bastion, your eyes are con- 
tinually drawn westward to rest upon those long smooth 
levels far below, that stretch away to the sea and join it so 
gently that hardly more than by the sparkHng of the sur- 
face beyond do you define their line of meeting. It is there 
the Maremma lies and one day you set forth to reach it. 

There is a direct road from Massa that sweeps down the 
mountain and out upon the plain, but, because by choosing 
a more deliberate approach we may visit certain little ob- 
scure places on the way, we turn for the moment to the 
northeast and climb to higher hills that are sometimes 
covered with a growth of brushwood, sometimes with 
groups of ilex and other trees. If it is spring, the white 
oaks are just coming into leaf; beneath them a sweet un- 
dergrowth of myrtle and rosemary breathes forth fragrance, 
and the slopes facing the southern sun are bright with 

17 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 



ranunculus and golden broom. Under the summits from 
which little fortified towns look down warily there are 
patches of cultivation, and the Maremman oxen, whose 
huge horns are so threatening and whose eyes are so mild, 
move slowly along the road, carrying the farm products 
of the neighborhood. 

At last, set on high, there comes into sight a saw- 
toothed ridge of trachyte rock, where splinters and wedges 
of stone and stony little houses shoulder each other in 
silhouette against the sky until the rocks carry the day and 
pitch downward obliquely to a wall of cliffs at whose base 
lie thick woods. Where the village clings, two slim towers 
rise against the sky, the whole a wondrous pictorial thing 
that seems to belong purely to the land of romance. Only 
in a country where nearly every height that commanded a 
road was fortified could it have been thought possible to 










ROCCATEDERIGHI 

i8 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

perch a town on such a blade as this. Roccatederighi it is 
called, and there is no doubt that much romance of a fierce 
kind entered, into its agitated history, beginning with the 
somewhat shadowy family of the Tederighi, feudatories of 
Siena, who gave it its name. 

Toward the close of the fourteenth century Siena was 
suffering intolerably from the rivalry of her two most 
powerful families, the Salimbeni and Tolomei. There was 
perpetual fighting between them; and the city, powerless 
to exert control, was filled with tumult and bloodshed. 

It is said that there is no hatred to be compared in fero- 
city with mediaeval hatreds, and if ever the saying had veri- 
fication, it was during such enmities as these where children 
hardly old enough to lisp the oath were sworn to carry on 
the blood-feuds of the family. Now and then, when tur- 
moil and wholesale slaughter became an unendurable 
scandal, the church interfered and forced the heads of 
warring parties to meet in the cathedral and pledge them- 
selves to peace and reconciliation upon the altar, but 
hardly had they left the threshold of the sanctuary ere the 
struggle recommenced and their false oaths were flung to 
the winds. 

In the Sienese revolutions of 1368 the Salimbeni became 
for a time all-powerful in the state, and Francesco, most 
prepotent of the family, forced the republic to give into his 
hands, for himself and his heirs, Roccatederighi and five 
other castles of the contado. In those days small towns 
must have been quite inured to being tossed like a ball 
from the hand of one irresponsible owner to another, but on 
this occasion, Francesco did not remain long in peaceful 
possession of his castles, for the fortunes of his family went 
down in the next Sienese revolution, and, his life being in 
danger, he was obliged for the time to fly from the city. 
He was next ordered to surrender his castles, but this he 
refused, and, diligently strengthening their fortifications, 

19 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

he prepared to defend them against any assault. As 
Siena was too occupied with her internal dissensions to 
lay siege to a group of castles, she suggested arbitrating 
the matter. This gave the Salimbeni the opportunity to 
hinder proceedings and demur at judgments, so that 
affairs dragged on and Francesco was able to return to 
Siena. 

With the aid of other disaffected nobles, the Salimbeni 
formed a new conspiracy to overturn the government, 
and in the struggle which ensued, Francesco was mortally 
wounded and died a few hours after. It was this Fran- 
cesco who was the father of the lovely Cangenova, whose 
unhappy love for Ipolito Tolomei, the enemy of her house, 
forms the subject of one of Bargagli's best known and most 
touching stories. 

After the death of Francesco, the fate of Roccatederighi 
was no less unhappy than before, until at last the people 
made a bargain with Siena to give themselves back to her, 
in return for which she was to rid them of the claims of the 
Salimbeni and all other such gentry, absolve them from 
any offences they might be considered to have committed, 
and remit their taxes for ten years. This being a cheap 
price to pay for the return of a valuable fortress, Siena 
agreed, generously making them a present of all the belong- 
ings of Francesco now within their walls and permitting 
the citizens of Roccatederighi to keep their own pasturage 
and the acorn crop. 

Such is an outline of the vicissitudes which this little 
town experienced during the tumultuous fifteenth century, 
but when, in the following one, it passed with Siena into 
the possession of Cosimo dei Medici, its importance van- 
ished and its remote situation caused it to lie forgotten and 
neglected for many a generation. Its walls and dwellings 
fell into decay, and whatever distinction it may have 
boasted in beauty of palace or dignity of castle, nothing has 

20 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

survived. It has an incomparable site for defence, but the 
fortress that once stood there has shrunk to a contracted 
huddle of walls, contrasting sadly with a too sleekly 
restored tower. In the town below it the streets are 
respectably clean and climb over their irregularities by 
means of steps hewn out of the rock on which the town is 
founded; but the peasantry who populate it have a certain 
air of ease and unconcern and the children are unusually 
well shod. I noticed that some of the children used 
French phrases, which at once awakened curiosity. 

A little talk with some of the leisurely inhabitants dis- 
closed the fact that their industry is quite specialized. The 
majority of the men leave their village for five months in 
the year and go to work in France. They are able to secure 
very cheap traveling rates by water from Italy, going in 
parties of four or more. Once there, they secure employ- 
ment in roadmaking and earn good wages, bringing home 
with them at the end of the season upward of five hundred 
lire. In a short time a laborer is able to lease a "house," 
that is, two or three rooms in one of the plain, solid build- 
ings thus divided for the use of many families. This 
accomplished, he secures a scrap of ground on which to 
cultivate tomatoes, and space for the accommodation of a 
pig, an important adjunct. He is now established as a 
pigionale or renter, that is, a solid householder, and with 
his modest wants, can spend the rest of the year without 
working. 




21 



/J 



y^> 






■--'~"tj-i'»i 



Orbetello. The Lookoitt 



CHAPTER II 
RoccASTRADA — Castello di Pietra, The Legend of 

PlA DEI TOLOMEI ^ThE MaREMMA AND GrOSSETO 

Vetulonia — Castiglione della Pescaja 

EXT on the road after Roccatederighi 
lies Roccastrada, and because of its 
name and its striking situation, as well 
as because it divided the day conve- 
niently, we climbed to its piazza for a 
midday meal which one may find at the 
Stella d'ltalia. Seen close at hand, the 
town is not prepossessing; on the con- 
trary, it is undeniably dirty and is 
full of black sotto streets and breakneck stairs that 
lead up or down to forbidding doorways. Within obscure 
shops, the carpenter and blacksmith work in a darkness 
which leads one to the conclusions that they have de- 
veloped eyes requiring no light. It is a stem place and a 
rough people. 

There are few towns as remote and yet as old as this 
from which the evidences of antiquity have disappeared so 
completely, but of the reasons for this nothing is to be 

22 





IIK 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

learned from the inhabitants. They do not remember 
that a castle ever existed on the rock above their heads; 
but we know that a strong one stood there long ago, belong- 
ing to the rebellious Counts of Santa Fiora from whom 
Siena took it in 1316. It had held out gallantly through 
many assaults, but at last the defenders were forced to 
capitulate, the victors agreeing to spare their lives, but 
reserving the right to destroy the fortifications. Whether 
or not they were thorough in their work, time has seconded 
it, for there is now no trace of wall or tower nor of any 
other survival of ancient architecture. 

I was pondering on the austerity of it all, the absence of 
any softening element, when a ray of sunshine put me in 
the wrong; it suddenly visited something near by which I 
had not noticed and lighted it with loveliness. It was a 
head of wavy copper-colored hair I have seldom seen 
equalled, and it belonged to a smiling girl who hospitably 
invited me to follow her to her abode where I should be re- 
warded by a "bella vedutaJ" I was glad to join her and we 
proceeded to mount innumerable flights of stairs, first the 
shor^ and steep ones of the streets and then the longer 
ones inside the bleak walls where she had her bower. 
When we reached it, it proved to be a large, bare room, 
clean but sparsely furnished, and decorated with the usual 
lithograph of King Victor Emanuel. Through it we 
passed out upon a little terrace bounded by closely set 
flower pots, which commanded all the beauty of a prospect 
the chatelaine of a costly villa might have coveted. 

Far above the unclean streets and harsh walls we stood, 
as though upon the prow of a ship borne gently upon a sea 
of spring verdure; a light breeze blew about us and we 
looked far out over wave after wave of rolling hills to a 
faintly blue horizon. My pretty companion felt the charm 
of her rare outlook and blushed with pleasure that it re- 
ceived the tribute which she knew it deserved. She swept 

23 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

it with her eyes and pointed out the directions of places 
she knew by name but had never visited. The world of her 
daily existence was small, but the horizon and the sky be- 
longed to her. While we chatted, she gathered a few blos- 
soms from her precious flower pots and gave them to me as 
we parted. 

From Roccastrada a lonely by-road with many turnings 
carries one to the forgotten ruins of Castello di Pietra. At 
one of these turnings Montemassi suddenly appears, a 
fortress very important in its day, but at present repre- 
sented only by two ruined towers and a few houses fitting 
like a cap to the peak of its conical hill. 

Otherwise the way leads among uninhabited hills and 
ravines till emerging suddenly upon the edge of a level 
stretch, the storied castle comes into view, outlined against 
the sky on a steep eminence to the west. At first one looks 
in vain for the melancholy gloom in which tradition en- 
velops it, and the imagination must reconstruct the sur- 
roundings that in early times gave it that character. The 
level plain it overlooks bounded by steep hills was once 
a fever-stricken morass, the hills were dark with an im- 
penetrable growth, fiend-haunted woods to the super- 
stitious, the heavy building on the hill was a symbol 
of tyranny and the seat of a story of cruelty and 
death. 

It was less of an effbrt to recall this when I made my 
first visit on a murky evening in November, with a chill in 
the air, and the grayness of low-lying clouds imparting 
itself to the whole landscape. I approached it too from 
the barren side of the spur on which the ruins of the castello 
brood. Returning to it in May showed a differently lighted 
picture. This time I took the longer walk, zigzagging up as 
beautiful a wooded slope as I have ever seen. At the foot 
of it ran the canal that had drained the valley and made 
of its pestilent marsh a space of cultivated land. Along its 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Castello di Pietra. The Round Tower 

banks grew masses of succulent water-plants and tufts of 
yellow iris. As for the pathway, it led between all manner 
of verdant shrubs, the cistus was starred with white, and 
the wild rose had already flung out sprays of pink, while 
cyclamen and daisies peeped from the ground below. It 
was all too beguiling for haste, and there was time to 
linger, but at last the top was reached and one entered the 
boundary of the castle. It must have been of great extent; 
portions of the outer wall choked with weeds and brambles 
now showed only a little above the ground, but others ris- 
ing aloft looked as solid yet as the eternal rocks. On the 
east out of a lichened buttress grows an old olive tree 
bravely putting forth its spring foliage, the stump of a 
ruined tower marks the northwestern corner, and at the 
northeast there is a steep drop to a lower level of walls. 

25 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Here is La Salta della Contessa, so called, The Countess' 
Leap. 

The story of Pia dei Tolomel and Nello Pannocchieschi 
has been told once and forever in those five immortal lines 
in which Dante uttered it, and it may be that we should ask 
nothing more; yet it is impossible to prevent the fancy 
from playing about the mystery of that brief and piteous 
record, or to hinder the quickening of a desire to trace the 
story further and discover what history and tradition have 
to add. Various are the avenues one may follow in the 
differing versions, and indeed the very existence of Pia has 
been questioned, her youth, her beauty, her tragedy, de- 
nied; yet, in spite of all, belief in her lives, and among the 
peasantry of these valleys nothing shakes the conviction 
of her reality. This then is the story as it was related to 
me upon the spot. 

The lady was young and lovely, no blame attached to 
her, the fate that befell her through her cruel husband was 
all undeserved. Her beauty tempted an unscrupulous 
noble, who essaying to make love to her was repulsed, and 
being an ignoble lover he was angered and determined to 
be revenged. The plot he concocted was nothing short of 
infernal; having discovered that the young Countess had a 
banished brother from whom she had been separated for 
many years, he employed a confederate and began to de- 
velop his scheme. Suspicion was craftily planted in the 
mind ofthe husband,nursed bythemeaningglance,the hint, 
the sentence begun and broken off with excuses, and pained 
sympathy half expressed. These had their effect, the man 
became gloomy and uneasy; the young wife remained un- 
aware and free of embarrassment. At last when the time 
was considered ripe and the husband's jealousy thoroughly 
aroused, he was invited to place himself in a certain win- 
dow and watch for the appearance of his lady. Care was 
taken that the scene prepared for him should be set for the 

26 




Castello di Pietra. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

eye only, and far enough for the sound of the voice to be 
unheard. Meantime the gentle Pia was sought and was 
told that her long absent brother was returning, that he 
was even now close by and eager to greet her. Full of 
sisterly affection, she waited not for his coming but 
hastened forth to meet him. At the chosen spot the con- 
federate, prepared in his part, met her with ardor, and 
with impulsive tenderness she threw herself into his arms. 

It was enough, the husband was convinced, and before 
he met his returning wife his mind was made up. No ex- 
planation she could make was listened to, he was stone, he 
was ice. He carried her at once to his castle in the lonely 
Maremma and here, sitting silent, deaf to any appeal she 
could make, he waited till grief and the poison of that air 
should have their way with her. For one so helpless and so 
anguished death would not have tarried long, but a day 
came when in a sudden access of despair she flung herself 
from a window overlooking the steep below the castle, and 
they gathered up the lifeless body, safe from further 
torture, and carrying it in, laid it down before him whose 
need of waiting was now over. That window to this day 
has been known as The Countess' Leap. 

Southward from Castello di Pietra the country road 
continues, following the little river Bruna among hills 
green with holm oaks and hedges threaded with wild 
spirea and white heather, from which one comes out upon 
the great plain of the Maremma. Once it was a series of 
pools and forests, and my friend, the Sienese, remembers 
when these woods were cut. It was done with haste and 
millions of birds and small animals were left homeless, and 
in their terror traversed long distances and even tried to 
take refuge in the homes of men, their natural enemies. 
Now the land lies cleared and level as a table, mostly under 
the plough excepting for an occasional group of cork oaks 
or a bit of unsubdued bog. On the east the plain is cut by 

27 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

promontories that advance from the hill country, on the 
west it stretches away to the sea. The afternoon had 
waned, and in the obscurity of the advancing twilight 
its great expanse lay colorless and blank before me, and 
under the spell of memory it took on a tragic loneliness. 
For the moment it was not so much its ghostly feudal past 
which rose in the mind as the sorrows of those later 
humble folk of the Maremma such as figure in the heart- 
breaking little tales of Fucini and Palmieri, but the 
wanderers they describe have disappeared from the part 
of the plain I was crossing, and it lay boundless and 
silent, the long straight road tapering gradually in per- 
spective and fading into the dusk. 

It was quite dark before a cluster of twinkling lights 
shone out of the distance, and soon we entered the gateway 
of Grosseto, the largest town of southern Tuscany. It was 
a too abrupt change from limitless silent space under an 
unbroken dome of star-shot sky; one resented the sudden 
flare of street lamps and the clatter over stone pave- 
ments, and yet how easily one is mollified by the offer of 
ease, how weakly does one relax from austerity to accept 
creature comforts! Cleanliness, warmth, good food, they 
are not to be disparaged at the end of a long day of travel, 
and Grosseto possesses an excellent inn, the Hotel Bastiani, 
which has a peculiar value for the wanderer in a region as 
little known as this, since in it he may be housed con- 
tentedly while making it the centre of explorations in 
many directions; and the fact that it is an unhappily 
modernized town, prosperous but not interesting, does not 
stand in the way of its usefulness to the traveler pre- 
occupied with his own needs. 

On the fine old brick rampart of Grosseto there is a little 
lookout from which you can scan the Maremma at its 
point of greatest breadth, and see the mountains and the 
littoral spread out before you. The Maremma, whose 

28 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

musical name means the country that borders the sea, is 
considered by Repetti to begin at the mouth of the River 
Magra in the northern corner of the triangle of Tuscany 
and extend to its southern boundary. He is speaking of the 
Tuscan Maremma only, but the same low shore extends at 
least to Civitavecchia, and of this varied coastline the 
portion south of Campiglia Marittima has been con- 
sidered the most deadly to man. Strange, mysterious re- 
gion! No other has had a like history or passed through 
the same vicissitudes, the same disasters. It has been 
dwelt upon for two thousand years, it has seen the rise and 
fall of proudest civilizations, it has watched the sweeping 
hordes of barbaric invasion, it has fallen from populous 
fertility to fever-stricken solitude, and now at last is being 
returned to the use of man as a dwelHng place. 

Under the Etruscans it flourished greatly, wisdom and 
patience made of its rich soil a productive garden, for it 
was drained by a complete system of subterranean canals, 
the remains of which have been since discovered by excava- 
tions made in connection with the railways. The Romans 
continued its prosperity, then there swept down upon it 
the northern destroyers, and again and again it became 
with the rest of Italy a trampled, blood-soaked battlefield. 
Yet though so many times beaten down it as often raised 
its head. The surviving people, terrified and dejected, 
crept back, they rebuilt their ruined dwellings, they plowed 
their fire-blackened fields and resumed their laborious, 
uncertain lives again. In the eighth century the Greek 
pirates took part in its devastation, and in the tenth the 
Saracens, having taken Sardinia, so ravaged the opposite 
shore of Italy, burning and slaughtering as they con- 
quered, that it became for a time virtually a wilder- 
ness; but even this was survived and up to the thirteenth 
century the Maremma was tolerably well populated and 
passable conditions existed. 

29 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Siena next helped to bring it low, for in her struggles to 
break up the great feudal holdings of such families as the 
Aldobrandeschi, the Pannocchieschi, the Visconti, the 
Ardengheschi, she destroyed the waterways, and this short- 
sighted policy encouraged the stealthy malaria that by 
degrees was subduing the country, and hastened its slow, 
unhappy decadence. As Siena came into possession she 
became in a manner the absentee landlord of a chang- 
ing and diminishing population. The streams flowing 
through a too level land were choked, the depressions be- 
came noisome swamps, rank forests covered much of the 
plain as well as the hills, and, helping to make them im- 
penetrable, parasitic growths flourished ; everywhere spread 
the marruca, most vicious of plants, at each joint carrying 
a pair of thorns set in opposite directions so that, as the 
country people say, while one grasps the other pierces. 
Wild boars abounded, bands of cattle and horses, lapsed to 
wildness, galloped at will over the abandoned plains. 

Only the names remained of shining villas and lordly 
castles, and the numbers of the peasantry who clung to the 
soil were thinned by malaria. In their ignorance regarding 
this unhappy disease conjecture dealt with its origin, and 
at one time many believed it to be caused by the breath of 
venomous snakes blowing across the sea from the opposite 
shore of Africa. This cannot but suggest a striking picture. 
We see lines of gigantic serpents, ranged upon the sands in 
a perspective of miles. They assume a uniform position 
resembling the letter S and alternately inhale in unison and 
in unison exhale sheets of fiery and poisonous vapor, di- 
rected against the shores of Italy. Proverbs of a forbidding 
character were common concerning the region, such as: 
**In the Maremma you grow rich in a year but you die in 
six months"; in fact, it was frequently referred to as a spot 
quite outside the bounds of the friendly earth, as when in 
Boccaccio's tale of the sixth day that pleasant fellow 

30 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Scalza proves that a certain family has claim to be the old- 
est "in the world or in the Maremma." 

Thus the poor Maremma languished for long and dreary 
centuries until that good Lorrainer, Leopold I, took it 
upon his heart and began its reclamation. All honor to 
him, for he accomplished what was possible at that time. 
For thirty years the work continued, portions of the soil 
were drained, charcoal burners and shepherds began to 
frequent it. In time, tempted by its fertility, tillers of the 
soil also came, venturing down to gather crops during the 
harvest season and returning to their homes, carrying their 
slender gains and too often also the seeds of the disease 
that gradually turned them bent and yellow. It is only 
within a few years that modern scientific methods have 
been appHed to the Maremma (I speak now of the portion 
between Campiglia Marittima and Orbetello); admirable 
work is being carried on, fine drainage canals cross it, and 
the destruction of the mosquito renders the country com- 
paratively safe for dwellers and for visitors. Much of the 
land is owned by wealthy proprietors or large syndicates, 
and is cultivated with the aid of the latest agricultural 
machinery. And so it curiously happens that progress has 
taken possession of this remote corner, and works its 
wonders there while some better known regions of Italy 
still keep the plough of Virgil. 

A few miles to the northwest of Grosseto there lies over 
against the shore an elevated bit of country like a little 
hilly island rising from the plain. On the west it is 
washed by the sea, Castiglione della Pescaja is upon its 
southern boundary, and Scarlino on the north, while 
Vetulonia lies on the eastern slope. In Vetulonia there is 
Httle to attract one, but the drive thither from Grosseto 
is a reward in itself, a long winding climb among the hills, 
through groups of trees and grassy meadows where the 
hedges are full of dogroses and the wild fig clings to steep 

31 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

banks above the road, each turn of which shows the 
widening prospect from a new angle. At the top stands the 
harsh Uttle town. As for its title, the learned agree that 
wherever the famous Etruscan Vetulonia once stood it 
was not upon the spot occupied by the Vetulonia of to-day, 
but be this as it may, the town resolutely claims the name. 

In the Middle Ages it was known as Castiglion-Bernardi, 
later it was called Colonna, but a tablet set in a wall now 
records that in 1887 King Umberto came and restored to 
the place its ancient appellation. As it now appears it has 
a lean look of poverty, there are but two houses that 
have an air of comfort. The small parish church with a 
tawdry interior and a front that resembles a warehouse 
rather than a sanctuary, shows a big, disproportionate 
campanile rising behind it. The few inhabitants look de- 
cent but too unoccupied; their digging for Etruscan re- 
mains has been denied them, and they miss the gains from 
the sale of their small discoveries. Rules are stringent. 
"We must have leave now before we plant a tree," they say 
despondently, but they make no appeal for charity. 

From Vetulonia there is no cross-road to Castiglione 
della Pescaja, so there is the pleasant winding way to be 
taken again, leading down to the plain and then skirting 
the hills, sometimes beside the River Bruna, now grown 
broader than when we met it near Castello di Pietra, some- 
times leaving it to pass through a grove of cork oaks and 
touch the border of a canal patterned over with water- 
lilies. Where the Bruna empties into the sea Castiglione 
lies on a declivity above it, guarding the little harbor with 
its mild commerce in charcoal. It was well fortified as all 
such places once had need to be; its walls are almost perfect 
still and a stout castle crowns the summit. Once there 
were battlements, but they have been filled in, and a too 
complacent hand has emphasized restorations with un- 
usually wide joints of white cement. Where there is brick- 

3* 




Castiglione della Pescaja. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

work to renew, fancy has been allowed to run riot and the 
fresh mortar becomes a conspicuous pattern to which the 
bricks are quite subordinate. The people take much pride 
in the improvements that are in progress. 

At the east portal the great timbered gates strengthened 
with iron still hang upon their hinges, and between them 
you enter the Street of Love, a narrow thoroughfare pass- 
ing between the high wall of the city on one side and tall 
buildings on the other, and under many broad arches 
heavily braced. Part way up this street stands the most 
important house that Castiglione boasts, once the seat of 
the government of Leopoldo, whose grandiose stemma, 
surmounted by a crown, still keeps its place above the 
door. Its present occupant is the landed proprietor of 
greatest local importance. The house parallels the city 
wall for some distance, and being but about thirty feet in 
depth is composed of a long series of apartments without 
intervening passageways, a sort of extended suite, which 
at short intervals is connected at the level of its second 
story with the city wall by means of the broad arches be- 
fore mentioned. The spaces over the arches balustraded 
and used as terraces are gay with potted plants, and as the 
line of wall has crumbled at its summit sufficiently to in- 
vite many wild blossoming plants and small shrubs to take 
root in it, the whole has the effect, at least in springtime, 
of a delightful hanging garden. The interior of the house, 
which was undergoing certain repairs, had space and light 
and contained some good mantels and door-frames of 
stone. It needed only the touch of taste in the furnishing 
to become an attractive dwelling. 

The village itself has shrunk away from the castle, leav- 
ing a large area empty; perhaps fire swept it and the num- 
ber of inhabitants did not require the rebuilding of it. 
There are the evidences of stone foundations here and 
there. The castle now stands quite alone, and many of the 

33 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

houses crowded together below it are ruinous, but blue sky 
and blue sea, the rocky height, the river under it, and the 
busy Hfe among the Httle craft in the harbor, all combine 
to give Castiglione a charm and interest of its own, besides 
which there is much quiet beauty in its surroundings. 
From the height of the castle looking south there is the 
perfect crescent of a little bay cutting into the flat shore, 
on the north lies a strip of white sandy beach with pine 
woods descending the slopes of low hills to meet it, and be- 
yond this a long rocky point running out into the waves, 
upon which stands one of that succession of towers created 
in the past to give warning of the approach of pirates. 

Late in the afternoon as I was reluctantly leaving 
Castiglione I came upon a little rosy-faced lad by the road- 
side. He was whistling, but in an unusual way; the low 
sounds he was producing were like rippling bird-notes and 
so sweet I could but linger and listen. Seeing this he grew 
a bit embarrassed, and the bird song died away. It was 
necessary to talk a little with him and put him at his ease 
before he would continue, and even then the compact was 
that we should turn away from each other so that there 
might be no disconcerting observation on my part. It is a 
peculiar use of the throat that makes possible this pretty 
warbling, so difficult to imitate. I was to hear it later 
more than once, as it is not so uncommon among the 
country people thereabout, but not again in such perfec- 
tion. With this Httle fellow there came now and then what 
sounded like the simultaneous production of two separate 
but harmonious notes. As we continued our way back to 
Grosseto the softly trilling cadence lingered upon the air 
hauntingly, and seemed to be taken up by the homing 
birds, singing as they always do most meltingly when those 
last level rays of sunset light them to their nests. 

To explore the shore south of Grosseto one travels upon 
the old Roman road, the Via Aurelia, which extends 

34 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

across the plain for some ten miles before reaching the ferry 
on the River Ombrone, at this point a sunny willow-edged 
stream. It is a monotonous drive not enlivened by the 
occasional groups of eucalyptus one passes, relics of a 
former theory of reclamation partly carried out. They 
have the dejected air of pining exiles, their pendulous foli- 
age is of a mouldy gray, the whole shrinking contorted tree 
bearing little resemblance to those stately and verdant ex- 
amples that flourish in homes they love. On the south 
bank of the Ombrone the flat line of the coast is inter- 
rupted and a steep ridge of wooded hills, the Uccellina, 
rises, descending on the seaward side to break in cliff's 
washed by the waves and often inaccessible. This ridge 
persists as far as the mouth of the River Osa, where it 
suddenly comes to an end. At regular intervals along its 
summit continues that chain of slim towers, all musically 
named, which connect it on the north with Castiglione 
della Pescaja, a line of sentinels to give warning of the 
dreaded corsairs who in the past so terribly scourged that 
shore. 




35 




Orbetello. The Walls 



CHAPTER III 

The Legend of Bella Marsilia — ^Talamone- 
BEGNA — Orbetello 



-Al- 



LITTLE beyond the ferry of the 
Ombrone you enter the charming 
narrow valley of the Uccellina, lying 
between the hills of its name and an- 
other ridge on the inland side, of 
lower slopes, scrub and grass-covered, 
the Poggi di Montiano. It is a little 
oasis between the plains at either end, 
a flowery, woodsy place where it is 
very sweet to linger in springtime. The valley was part of 
the holdings of the Aldobrandeschi, from whom it passed 
in the fourteenth century to the Marsili of Siena. Col- 
lechio, midway of the valley, was the central point of this 
estate and is represented now by a group of substantial 
modern buildings. From this point come into view three 

36 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

greater towers not belonging to the chain already men- 
tioned, those of the Uccellina, San Robano, and Bella 
Marsilia. San Robano, fragment of a famous abbey of the 
Templars, ivy-curtained and beautifully picturesque, is 
difl&cult of access, but I fancy that if on some moonlight 
night you were to penetrate the enchanted woods that 
defend it from the outside world, you might descry cer- 
tain tall, grave figures in long white cloaks signed with a 
scarlet cross, and as they passed you might hear the 
muffled clang of armor underneath those mantles that 
marked them as more warlike than priestly. 

Bella Marsilia may be reached in less than an hour by a 
rough footpath which ascends one of the spurs of the 
ridge, all of which spurs are covered with dense green, the 
sunny highlights of the white oaks being brought into 
vividness by the rich bronze of the cork trees. This covert 
no longer ago than the last century sheltered many a roe- 
buck and wild boar. One is welcomed on the way by 
whole slopes covered with rosemary and other fragrant 
shrubs till the last pitch below the castle walls is reached, 
and here begins an admirable defence. Never before did I 
encounter such compact rows of nettles reinforced by 
thistles. 

The heavy square tower of the fortress still stands, but 
has probably lost much of its original height; a portion of 
the wall rises to some twenty feet near it, and for the rest 
one may trace the boundaries of the whole large enclosure, 
walking most of the way upon what remains of the 
foundations, or over mounds formed by its fallen stones. 
The Castle of Collechio it was called, while the Aldo- 
brandeschi owned it, but some five hundred years ago it 
received another name by which it has been known ever 
since, the Bella MarsiHa, and the tradition which renamed 
it is recorded by Centorio, an old chronicler. That La 
Rossa, the heroine of the story, is without doubt identical 

^7 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 







.ft '/« 




:Vvir.^ 



' ^ja.^-*^%j4:.4:vv^.g„ait» 



Torre della Bella Marsilia 



with the famous and infamous Roxelana, Sultana of 
Suleiman I, the most illustrious of all Turkish sultans with 
the exception of Mohammed the Conqueror, he affirms to 
be indisputable, but adds deprecatingly that he would not 
wish to have it thought he takes pride in this assertion, for 
it should add to no one's patriotic vanity to claim a historic 
personage, however renowned, who consents to live outside 
the mother country and the CathoHc faith. He, however, 
consents to give the facts simply as true history, that he 
may not stand in the light of those who desire ardently 
to have knowledge of them. 

The story taken principally from this source is as fol- 
lows. When Nanni Marsili of a noble house of Siena 
possessed this great Maremman estate, he was in the 
habit of going for part of the year to the Castle of Colle- 
chio, together with his family. In the year 1 543 Turkish 
corsairs landed upon the coast and attacked the fortress. 
Though bravely defended it was taken, sacked, and burned 

38 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and those within slaughtered with the exception of one 
person. This was the young daughter of Marsili, a child 
striking in form and face and possessed of a glorious 
mass of copper-colored hair lighted to pure gold when the 
sun touched it. The pirates took note of her promise and 
decided to carry her alive to Constantinople and present 
her to their Sultan. This they accordingly did, and Sulei- 
man was as much impressed with her rare qualities as were 
his discriminating pirates. He caused her to be placed in 
his harem and carefully educated, and as in time she de- 
veloped extraordinary beauty and intelligence, he fell 
ardently in love with her; and the devotion that grew up 
between the two and increased rather than lessened with 
years has become one of the famous romances of history. 

La Rossa, as we shall continue to call her, obtained a 
control over Suleiman so complete that as time went on 
and her unscrupulous ambition grew, she was able to 
carry out her schemes in a way nothing short of amazing. 
By Suleiman she had four sons, Mohammed, Bajazet, 
Selim, and Zeangiro (who was a hunchback), and one 
daughter. As these children were born to her she dreamed 
day and night of seeing one of her sons succeed to the 
throne of his father, yet while her influence with Suleiman 
was supreme she knew that custom had placed an obstacle 
in her way almost impossible to overcome. Suleiman had 
an older son, Mustafa, child of a Circassian slave, and ac- 
cording to precedent this son would be his heir. All the 
more was this to be expected that Mustafa, now grown to 
young manhood, was endowed with great ability and 
courage, besides physical beauty and strength. Every- 
where admired, he was exceedingly popular in the army, 
and in particular the idol of the janizaries. His father had 
made him governor of Amasia. La Rossa considering long 
how Mustafa could be excluded from the succession in 
favor of her sons, laid her plans with careful deliberation. 

39 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

To Mulplet, the priest, highest authority in the Mo- 
hammedan reHgion, she declared that she had made a 
vow to build a mosque to the honor of God and the 
Prophet, but that she was troubled in mind lest this should 
not prove acceptable. To this he replied that it would 
certainly be acceptable but that it would profit nothing to 
her soul, she being a slave, all the glory thereof accruing to 
Suleiman with whose gold it would be built. This blow 
prostrated La Rossa, who now fell into a melancholy so 
profound that she neither ate nor drank. Seeing her state 
Suleiman was thrown into the greatest distress, but for a 
while La Rossa refused to disclose the cause of her grief. At 
last, yielding to his anxiety, she divulged the reason, and 
added that as a slave she was convinced that eternal dam- 
nation would be her portion. Suleiman at once publicly 
declared her free and called upon all to respect her accord- 
ingly. La Rossa now revived, and Suleiman having given 
this proof of his aflFection, expected to continue the same 
relations with her as had existed before; but this she with 
sorrow refused, saying that according to Turkish law a 
slave might be thus treated, but not a free woman, such as 
she had now become through his magnanimity. If Sulei- 
man hesitated before all that a marriage with La Rossa 
would involve it was not for long; he made her his wife and 
settled upon her an independent income. 

So far La Rossa's success was complete, yet she was still 
uneasy; her children, it is true, were raised above all others 
in rank, yet she felt she could never be quite secure of the 
throne for her son while Mustafa with all his charm and 
popularity remained alive. He must in some way be re- 
moved. She pondered long and realized that she needed a 
confederate. The vizier, Rustem Pacha, owed to her his 
elevation to that important position; she could therefore 
count upon his assistance. With him she began to plot 
against the life of Mustafa, and after much discussion it 

40 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

was agreed that poison should be secretly administered, 
but by this time Mustafa had been warned of the intrigues 
against him and the attempt failed. This was a disappoint- 
ment, as the lady had hoped to accomplish her aim with 
speed and finality, but though somewhat chagrined she 
was not discouraged, and she now decided to apply herself 
to a slower but surer method. She began to plant in the 
mind of Suleiman suspicion and fear of his oldest son. 
Appearing to suffer deeply between love for her husband 
and reluctance to believe ill of Mustafa, she imparted her 
conviction that Mustafa's ambition had grown to such a 
point that he was not willing to wait till the natural time 
for his inheritance, but was absolutely now plotting the 
death of his father, and that the reason for his having so 
ingratiated himself with the janizaries was thus made 
plain; also that he was now trying to strengthen himself 
further through proposing an alliance by marriage with the 
King of Persia. Suleiman, fond and proud of his splendid 
son, declared himself unable to believe in such treachery, 
but La Rossa ceased not to fan the flame she had lighted, 
and she next forged letters purporting to have been re- 
ceived by her from the Pacha of Amasia, containing con- 
firmation of all she had suggested. The Pacha stated that 
Mustafa was seeking to ally himself with Persia for the 
purpose of dethroning his father. 

In the end La Rossa succeeded and Suleiman, excited to 
the last degree by rage and terror, appointed Rustem 
Pacha commander of an expedition to Amasia purporting 
to be organized for the purpose of invading Persia, but in 
reality undertaken to make Mustafa a prisoner. Suleiman 
himself accompanied the army and when they neared 
Amasia, that picturesque pyramid of rock above the River 
Iris, he halted and sent a summons to his son to appear be- 
fore him. The friends of Mustafa begged him not to obey 
this command, and tried to convince him that a trap was 

41 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

laid for him, but Mustafa, conscious of his own innocence 
and refusing to distrust his father, advanced at once with 
his own soldiers to the spot where Suleiman was en- 
camped. Careful to be advised of the approach of Mustafa 
the traitor Rustem detached a company of janizaries 
from the army of Suleiman and sent it forward, ostensibly 
to meet the prince and do him the honor of escorting 
him to his father. The janizaries, overjoyed to see again 
the leader they adored, greeted him with demonstra- 
tions of delight, and this Rustem hastened to impart to 
the Sultan with sinister exaggerations, complaining that 
he had not been able to hold the janizaries in check, for, as 
soon as they found themselves near Mustafa they had 
broken away from all authority and gone to join him. 

Meanwhile Mustafa had had a dream which when he 
told it to his courtiers greatly disturbed them. He had 
been with a certain prophet in Paradise. From where they 
stood together he beheld upon one hand that glorious 
place where virtuous Mohammedans are rewarded, on the 
other he could see that two rivers flowed; they were black 
as pitch and boiled continually. In these dreadful waters 
struggled the heretics in perpetual torment. No one could 
interpret this vision, but all agreed that it was in the nature 
of a warning, and they renewed their urging that he would 
not put himself into his father's hands. This Mustafa 
steadily refused, saying that obedience to parents was a 
sacred duty, and reminding them that whatever might 
occur an honorable death was the gate to eternal bliss. 
Therefore with unshaken courage yet hardly without 
misgivings he prepared to appear before his father. 
Dressed superbly in a white costume which he intended 
to be symbolic, he proceeded to the pavilion of Suleiman, 
where with great ceremony he was introduced to the in- 
terior. On the instant he realized his fate. His father was 
not there, but in his place stood seven swarthy mutes, one 

42 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of them holding the fatal bow-string. Mustafa was power- 
ful beyond most men, and a dreadful struggle took place; 
in the few moments that unequal struggle lasted he heard 
his father's voice from behind a curtain urging the assas- 
sins to kill quickly the traitor who had made his nights 
sleepless. 

So died the gallant Mustafa, and as he lay there the 
heavy curtain was drawn aside and his father entered and 
looked upon the body. When he had regarded it for a 
moment he sent for Zeangiro, the deformed child of him- 
self and La Rossa, whom he had brought with him on this 
journey. This boy was passionately attached to the mag- 
nificent half-brother, so much his senior, whom he had 
made his ideal in all things. He now entered, all un- 
conscious of what had taken place. Suleiman with a wave 
of his hand bade him salute his brother. For a moment he 
stood frozen with horror, then forgetting everything but 
his grief and the awful spectacle before him, he turned 
upon his father, shaken with sobs, and pouring forth curses 
and reproaches, he presently drew a dagger and drove 
it into his own heart. 

Suleiman sent deputies to take possession of the rich 
effects of his son, but the janizaries, unconscious of the 
reason for their leader's continued absence and indignant 
at this attempt meanly to rob him, refused to give them up, 
and there came near being a bloody uprising. But the 
knowledge of Mustafa's death could not long be concealed 
from them, and utterly bewildered and blind with rage, 
they surged in a mass to the tent of the Sultan, furiously 
demanding the reason for the murder, and instant revenge. 
In this peril Suleiman seems to have taken refuge in 
sacrificing Rustem Pacha, whom he degraded from his 
rank, and the vizier barely escaped from the camp with his 
life, while Suleiman attempted to appease the janizaries 
with rich gifts and promises that if they would be patient 

43 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and accompany him to Aleppo, the case of Mustafa's 
treacherous intentions should be thoroughly sifted and 
justice done. Some light upon the deceit practised upon 
him seems now to have entered the mind of Suleiman, for 
we are told he deliberated upon the punishment due to La 
Rossa, and that he began publicly to caress the child 
Mohammed, son of the murdered Mustafa, bestowing 
upon him rank and honors. 

At this point the manuscript of Centorio drops the tragic 
story, leaving the enlightenment of the Sultan, if it took 
place, untold, as well as his subsequent meeting with his 
guilty wife. History tells us that not long after the date of 
Mustafa's death, the Sultana died, and that Suleiman 
caused her body to be placed in the most beautiful tomb 
that could be provided by Moslem art. There is, however, 
a romantic addition to the narrative by a later writer. This 
relates that on the very day La Rossa gave birth to her 
first son there died the newborn infant of the Circassian, 
her rival, whence the latter, fearful of losing the favor of 
Suleiman if she had no son to present to him, concealed the 
death of her child and had diligent search made for an- 
other which she might put in its place. Destiny willed that 
she was given the child of La Rossa, for which her own 
dead infant was substituted. Thus she gained favor while 
her rival was supposed to be so unfortunate as to have 
given birth to a still-born son. The boy was given the 
name of Mustafa and grew up believed by all to be the off- 
spring of the Circassian. 

Soon after the departure of Suleiman for Amasia, La 
Rossa was told of the substitution and given proof that 
Mustafa was her own son. Nearly crazed she set out and 
traveled with all the speed possible to overtake her hus- 
band and prevent the assassination she had herself plan- 
ned. It was in vain; before she could reach him news was 
brought her that the purpose she had so schemed to carry 

44 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

out was accomplished, Mustafa was dead. Desperation 
took possession of her, and going no further she took 
poison and died. 

A shocking story this, full of dreadful passions and 
dreadful crimes, yet the authentic history of Constanti- 
nople in those centuries records many as terrible, and if, 
putting faith in the genealogical tree of the Marsili family, 
we accept the tradition that La Rossa and Roxelana are 
identical, the imagination begins to deal with the girl- 
hood of this Tuscan child carried away to those alien sur- 
roundings; whether she sickened for her soft ItaHan home, 
whether she grieved for her murdered kindred, of all this 
there is no record, but we are told that when she came into 
power she sent messages to those of her family left in 
Siena, pressing them to come to her and offering them 
wealth and position. It is not added that any of them took 
advantage of these invitations, and daring would have 
been he who ventured to do so. Out of her merciless 
schemes came nothing that she might have taken pride in. 
The succession was secured to her sons, but they were un- 
worthy of it; they fought among themselves and murder 
after murder resulted. Selim finally came to the throne 
and proved one of the worst of his line; base, grossly 
sensual and cowardly, he was held in contempt by his 
people and through the excesses which caused his death 
after a short reign, gained the title of The Sot. 

Emerging from the shelter of the UccelHna, where the 
ridge drops suddenly to the level of the shore, Talamone 
appears upon its low barren headland. If we choose to go 
back to thirteen centuries before Christ we may fancy 
Telamon the Argonaut landing in its little harbor; or some 
centuries later we may see the shores dotted with Roman 
villas that gleamed through enchanting gardens. Now it 
is a bleak, rocky waste; a castle harshly rebuilt and stand- 
ing alone, a handful of poor houses near by, and a few 

45 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 



fishing boats at the shore are all that is left to-day. In 
the Middle Ages it passed from hand to hand and for a 
short time under Siena revived to some degree of pros- 
perity, but good fortune never stayed long with it. 
Piccinino took it, the terrible pirate Areodeno of the Red 
Beard ravaged it, and it finally went to ruin altogether, 
seaweed encumbered its port, the winds heaped walls of 
sand about it, and stagnant pools bred fever, malaria 
ravaged it, and Repetti tells us it was a source of danger 
for miles inland. Corsairs, who according to tradition 
appeared immune to all such peril, nested there and de- 
fied capture, and it is only now beginning to be habitable. 










Vr^ \^^ 



!* ^.tj:.:: "-::--—. 




Talamone 

"Guardala e passal" is a better motto for Talamone 
than for Massa; still from it the view of the indented shore 
is charming and across the gulf of its name rise the twin 
peaks of Monte Argentario at whose foot low-lying Orbe- 
tello seems to float like the island of ^olus, upon the 
surface of its lagoon. Toward it we take our way, for 
Talamone does not detain us long; but there is still a river 
to cross, the Albegna, and even as late as the last century 

46 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

we might have approached it through the pine woods 
that Dennis describes. To-day not a tree remains. The 
Albegna is a stream with the most tranquil air imaginable, 
the margin plumed and tufted with greenery that dips 
softly to its slow current. Nothing could look more 
sweet-tempered and harmless, yet its reputation is of the 
worst; it is given to inundating grain and drowning sheep. 
The ferry is so near its mouth that you see the river join 
the sea a stone's throw away, but so quietly that hardly 
a wavelet strives against the delivered water. Upon the 
opposite bank stands a miniature fort. Small as it is it 
bears itself with an air of impregnability and jealously 
exacts respect, and no wonder, for here was the Tuscan 
boundary until 1814 when the last Spanish presidio was 
absorbed by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. 

It was upon a sombre evening that I last saw the place, 
the sky was faintly gray, there was something mournful 
in the wide, vague landscape, something plaintive about 
the wistful, patient faces of the sheep that encumbered the 
space about the ferry. We waited beside the road for a 
while and talked with the shepherds. They were paying 
for the crossing in weight of fresh pecorino^ an excellent 
sheep's-milk cheese. My sympathies being with them 
rather than with stern municipal officials, the price 
seemed high; they thought so, too. 

"It is a horror!" they declared dejectedly. "Three 
cents for every sheep no matter how large the flock.'* 

" But this is such a narrow stream, why can you not let 
them swim across?" 

"We have tried it but we lose too many; some are tired 
with the long road, some are old. They get drowned and 
they are stolen, and then there are the lambs. No, we can- 
not risk it." 

The yearly migration from the plain to the mountains 
was beginning. The Maremman shepherds are a genuine 

47 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

nomadic race, though their numbers are yearly lessening 
for the reason that the area open to them for pasturage is 
more and more restricted through the encroachments of 
agriculture. The open grazing ground now begins near the 
Albegna River and from there extends south toward Rome. 
The shepherds divide the year between this region and the 
mountains as far north as the Pistojese, eight months in the 
former and four in the latter, renting pasturage in both 
places. Their reason for traveling such long distances is 
that the forage dries early in the Maremma, upon the hills 
as well as in the valleys, while it matures later in the north 
and lasts longer. The tall conical straw huts in which they 
live while in the south singularly resemble the dwellings 
of some of the aborigines of South Africa and are quite as 
primitive. Each stands alone, resembling a magnified 
beehive and with quite as detachable a look. Nothing 
around it indicates any length of occupancy, there is not a 
trace of cultivation or an outbuilding near, and the sheep 
of the owner are enclosed at night with precisely such 
means as one may see in the background of sixteenth- 
century pictures by Andrea di Niccolo or Pietro di Domen- 
ico in the gallery of Siena, a circle of rods thrust into the 
ground and connected with a cord. With this movable 
sheepfold the shepherd can enclose his flock at home or at 
any point on his recurrent travels. 

One of these stood near our road, and the owner, a 
ruddy, contented looking fellow, lounged by it and had 
nothing more pressing to do than to have a word with idle 
passersby like ourselves. He had spent twelve winters in 
this abode, he said. He was of course called Neri, short- 
ened from Ranieri, which name seems to be given to most 
boys in the Maremma. Can it have come down as a 
heritage from that ancient ancestor of so long ago, Ranieri 
who in the eleventh century was the first Marquis of 
Tuscany? Neri was about to start for the north. He 

48 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

offered us water, his impulse of hospitality had no means of 
reaching further, and we parted with good wishes on both 
sides. 

When the time for the migration of this population 
comes, the women and children of the family in a cart with 
their few belongings either follow or precede the shepherd 
with his flock. At night they camp and tend the aihng 
sheep and the newly born lambs, and thus they travel day 
after day till the mountains are reached. Meantime the 
sheep lawfully or lawlessly obtain their food by the way- 
side. They are driven slowly and eat incessantly as they 
pass along, while the grass by the roadside and every green 
shoot in the hedges suffer. The farmers behind those 
hedges are on the alert at this season, for if there is a break 
in one, the shepherd, if he has a conscience, loiters and 
looks the other way, or, if he has not, boldly encourages the 
sheep to press through and snatch all the forage possible 
before the owner discovers the incursion. When this mo- 
ment arrives, imprecations and bellowings of rage rend the 
air, the sheep helplessly tumble over one another as they 
are driven back through the opening, the shepherd, con- 
fronted with his trespass, acts surprise or effontery as the 
case may be and with accusations and recriminations the 
uproar on both sides trails away into the distance. We 
had not long left our shepherd acquaintance when we 
found upon the road an emblem of his calling and that of 
all his tribe, one of the little sheep-bells in use hereabout, 
so sweetly ineffectual as to sound, but so pretty, so like 
ancient bronze in form and surface. We accepted it with 
all it implied as a fitting memorial of the country. 

There is not another place so curiously situated as 
Orbetello, or so difficult to picture to one who has not seen 
it. One must have recourse to the imagination seconded 
by a map. The happiest phrase I have heard applied to its 
relation to its opposite island is, "Monte Argentario lies 

49 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

beside it like a great ship moored by its three ropes of 
sand." The mountainous island rises steeply from the 
sea, two narrow strips of sand, about eight miles apart at 
the shore and converging to three at Argentario, connect 
it with the mainland from which, about midway between 
the two, stretches the narrow tongue of sand upon which 
Orbetello was built. This is now extended by a dike that 
continues to the opposite shore and bears the road. Thus 
two lagoons are formed, in all ten square miles in extent. 
They are so shallow that they have nowhere a greater 
depth than five feet, but they swarm with fish which enter 
by a small canal in the northern tombola. One of these 
lagoons is free to the inhabitants, the other is reserved for 
the municipality, and as the causeway which supports the 
road is pierced at intervals the fish have the choice of 
favoring either party. They are said not to be of the best 
quality but I did not taste them while there. 

After crossing the Albegna the road follows the shore for 
a short distance, till, wheeling to the west, it runs out upon 
the isthmus which we follow for two miles to reach Orbe- 
tello. There we are confronted by a stout line of fortifica- 
tions, stretching from bank to bank, and pass through a 
pompous gateway, Spanish in character and embellished 
with coats of arms. That of Orbetello itself, by the way, 
is amusing, a subdued dolphin is trampled upon by a 
rampant lion, who claws a trident but at the same time 
looks over his shoulder with the most intimate of winks at 
the beholder. Orbetello is surrounded by a heavy sea- 
wall of great antiquity and it is worth while to take a boat 
and follow the line of it. It is formed of enormous poly- 
gonal blocks of stone excepting near the top where courses 
of inferior construction, added much later, finish it. 

It must have been a place of great strength when it was 
the capital of the Spanish presidio, last garrison of the 
empire upon Italian soil. The Spanish occupied it after 

SO 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

being driven from Siena in 1554, and Spain, and afterward 
Naples, held the strip of land between the Albegna River 
and the Fiora till Napoleon came a hundred and fifty years 
later. Their occupation has left its stamp upon the archi- 
tecture and there are Spanish epitaphs in the church and 
Spanish archives in the Municipal Palace, but upon the 
people hardly a mark is left. They speak an uncorrupted 
Tuscan though a few of them bear names that have per- 
sisted from that foreign time. It is a favorite resort in 
summer when Grosseto and other places near it become 
torrid, and it has been singularly free from malaria, but 
how visitors in any number are accommodated I could not 
discover. The principal inn is small and far from luxur- 
ious; as for attractions, they are few in comparison with 
those of other places. Monte Argentario I did not visit; it 
has rich mines; and Port Ercole upon the southern shore of 
it is a picturesque village. 

A few miles south of Orbetello one comes to the wooded 
hill where ancient Ansedonia lay. Had I been an im- 
passioned Etruscan instead of but a lukewarm one I should 
have made the long, steep ascent and looked at the remains 
of its walls and the view which is so highly commended. 
The afternoon was beautiful, I was not hurried, yet I was 
satisfied with gazing at it from a distance, a recollection 
which now brings a mild regret. If time allows one may 
follow the main road a little farther and, passing the 
lagoon of Burana with its curious squat tower, climb the 
Hills of the Wind to see the village of Capalbio with its 
fine, defiant gateway set in crumbling walls of defence and 
its recent memorial, the grave where lies one of the most 
famous bandits of modem times, Tiburzi, King of the 
Macchia. 



St 




Villa Corsini 



CHAPTER IV 
TiBURzi THE Brigand 

RIVING inland from Orbetello, there 
is a long level stretch to pass before one 
reaches the first undulations of the 
Maremman mountains. Where they 
begin, a building looking half villa half 
fortress stands upon an elevation 
above the road. 

"It was villas such as this of Prince 
^ Corsini's, that paid tribute to the 
brigand Tiburzi," remarked my friend the Sienese, "and 
this was the field of his exploits." 

It is hard to realize that it is but a few years since the 
close of a career like Tiburzi's, rendered possible by con- 
ditions that have so completely changed. "The land of 
the wild boar and of Tiburzi" the region was called; and 
from these hills absentee landlords contented themselves 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

with what income they could wring from estates managed 
in spite of malaria and highway robbery. Two courses 
were open to the owners of these lands : to live in a con- 
stant state of defensive warfare, subject to loss of cattle 
and other depredations on the one hand; or, on the other, 
to pay tribute to a robber captain. Many submitted to the 
latter condition, humiliating though it might be, and 
thereby enjoyed a measure of security. A yearly sum paid 
to a powerful brigand secured them immunity from being 
plundered by lesser highwaymen, for a landlord known to 
be under the protection of such a captain was not molested 
by others. Satirical as it may sound, under this arrange- 
ment crime notably diminished; for the brigand was in 
reality more powerful than his country's government, and 
controlled the zone in which he operated with an authority 
far more complete. 

The existence of such outlaws was for years only spas- 
modically interfered with. After some flagrant outrage, a 
band of carabinieri would be sent to ferret out the ring- 
leaders, or a reward would be offered for their apprehen- 
sion. A fruitless search followed, in which the brigand 
escaped, while the poor contadiniy suspected of favoring 
him, were arrested. 

The reason for such a condition is explained in sub- 
stance as follows, by Professor Sighele. Writing in 1890 
he says: .... "To overcome an able brigand there 
should exist less fear among the people and less weakness 
in their rulers. The relation of the peasantry to the bandit 
is such that not only is he assisted, but protected, fed, and 
furnished with arms and with information of the .move- 
ments of the carabinieri. Besides this, there is the favoring 
character of the country, the famous macchia as it is 
called, composed of square leagues of hill and ravine 
densely covered with a dwarf forest tangled, thorny, full 
of pits and precipices, virtually inaccessible, impossible to 

S3 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

surround, and useless to explore. Malaria reigns there as 
the poor carabiniere well knows, and the dread disease 
numbers many more victims than does the lead of the 
assassin." 

Domenico Tiburzi is perhaps the most famous example 
of the closing phase of powerful brigandage in Italy. The 
beginning of such a career as his was apt to be the com- 
mission of a crime, the culprit fled from justice, and living 
for a time in hiding, fell easily into the life of the highway- 
man. The turning point with Tiburzi is said to have been 
a love affair and a murder. He was born at Cellere, a little 
village a few miles from Viterbo, in 1826, and according to 
the papal records, was over thirty years old before the first 
murder committed by him. For this he was at once 
arrested, and a curious story is told in this connection. 
Instead of the customary speedy trial and condemnation, 
he was shortly released, or else allowed to escape, because 
it was whispered a noble family had need of him for a time 
to carry out a private vendetta. However this may be, 
within two years he was again in prison, and at the close of 
his trial was condemned to the galleys for eighteen years. 
From this imprisonment he contrived to escape a little 
later, and then began that extraordinary career in which, 
with bravery, audacity, and a character of unusual force, 
he rose to the virtual control of a large extent of country in 
the southern portion of Tuscany. He was tall and hand- 
some, with brilliant blue eyes, and though delicately built, 
of a prodigious physical strength. He became known as 
the King of the Macchia. He gathered about him a band 
of followers and with these under his orders, established a 
system of hiding places, and of cached arms and pro- 
visions, which, together with a knowledge of the woods so 
exact and complete that he was easily able to evade cap- 
ture, equipped him for operating with a success that for 
years never failed him. 

54 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Among those who joined Tiburzi and agreed to his un- 
questioned leadership was Biagini, an expert shot and an 
accompHshed bandit of the older generation. This man, 
together with Fioravanti, Tiburzi's son-in-law, who left 
the mild occupation of cook in a training school for priests, 
for the more exciting life of the highway, were his trusted 
lieutenants. The size of his band, originally considerable, 
was gradually reduced through the slaying or capture of its 
members; but with the course of years, Tiburzi brought his 
territory under a system that had less need of numbers. 
Menichetti and Ansuini, a pair belonging to the younger 
generation, were also ambitious to join his group, but he 
refused to enroll them, at the same time giving them 
clearly to understand that he considered their methods 
lacked refinement; the fact being that Menichetti and his 
friend Ansuini carried on their profession in the primitive 
manner by the direct employment of assassination and 
robbery. Tiburzi added the warning that he allowed no in- 
fringement of his region of operations, and Menichetti and 
his friend submitted sadly and confined themselves to a 
position farther south. 

In the loneliness of the Maremman mountains there was 
no lack of secure refuge for men like these. There were 
grottoes, curtained with tangled vines, whence, perhaps, the 
wild boar must first be dislodged; there were slit walls of 
rock readily fashioned into intricate passages; there were 
caves concealed by nature and easy to fortify. The way 
to them led over rugged heights, through deep ravines, 
beside foaming torrents, but there were also the crumbling 
remains of many a forgotten castle buried deep in the 
woods, such as the Roccaccia, that majestic fragment of a 
Sienese fortress a few miles south of Manciano; but most 
secret of all, and nearly inaccessible, lay the heaped ruins 
of Castro, that hapless stronghold destroyed by Pope 
Innocent X in the days when popes were powerful enough 

55 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

to decree the overthrow of a city for a crime against the 
Church. A Httle war had raged round Castro, one of the 
famous house of Farnese had there murdered a bishop. 

This spot, one among many, was a favorite covert of 
Tiburzi and his friends. That scarce a demolished wall 
reared itself above the earth made it none the worse for their 
purpose; deep belowthe mounded masses of stone lay many 
a vaulted chamber, many a secret gallery. More than one 
well-disguised opening could be made to this underground 
domain. Something like a permanent home was estab- 
lished here, to which in time a certain rough luxury was 
added. Under exploration those torch-lighted depths must 
have made strange disclosures. Two hundred years had 
passed over them since the sudden ruin that befell the 
town. Who can guess what secret deposits were there un- 
earthed of objects left behind in that day of terror and dis- 
tress .'* Story tells us that at least one comforting discovery 
was made, a great store of wines had lain there undis- 
turbed till upturned by Tiburzi! In this place existed as 
much security as a brigand could hope for, but, after all, 
what constituted the existence of such a man .? Year after 
year of untiring activity, of sleep with firearms beside him, 
of an ear trained to the breaking of a twig, of perpetual 
vigilance against perpetual pursuit. He must be hardened 
to extreme heat and deadly cold, and immune to exposure 
and exhaustion, and most of all to the dreaded malaria. 

It will be seen that success in such a career implied 
many qualities, both mental and physical, and much 
might be written of the characteristics of the men we are 
dealing with, but, putting aside those which come easily to 
mind as advantageous, there was one, as a matter of fact, 
almost universal, religious superstition. 

As Tiburzi was both intelligent and cynical we have less 
record of his sharing in those beliefs, but they existed 
among his followers who were exceedingly devout. They 

S6 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

wore amulets, prayed fervently, and relied upon help from 
the Virgin and kindly disposed saints in their undertakings. 
Upon the body of Biagini, who was killed in an encounter 
with the carabinieri, a printed prayer was found, which he 
was known to recite every evening. It promised him pro- 
tection against disloyalty at home, and all enemies and 
false testimony abroad, and especially secured him against 
sudden death. Of their view of life and conduct a letter 
from prison by Menichetti to his mother, while awaiting 
his trial, offers an interesting example. Considerably 
abridged, it reads as follows: 

My Beloved Mother: 

I write in answer to your affectionate letter and I am grieved to hear 
of your poor health which I fear is due to distress over my present 
plight. Try not to write quite so seriously, that is, do not dwell upon 
sickness and the like, you know how sensitive I am. It is better not 
to discuss unhappy things, nor to reproach me for my misfortunes. 
Let us pluck up courage and carry on bravely the remainder of life. 

God has pardoned me while at the same time mildly chiding me for 
my foolishness in not having better concealed and protected myself. 
^/5^ ill doings have been much exaggerated and my judges might at 
least have spared my parents their present mortification. Destiny 
orders the lives of men. I do not say that mine is of the worst, because 
among many mishaps I have also had great good luck, but I have not 
contrived to balance them. 

For this reason God is correcting me for the careless fool I have been. 
Beg Him, my dear Mother, to cease reproving me. 

Your affectionate son, 

DoMENico Menichetti. 

The special resource of the bandit of those times was, of 
course, the plunder of wealthy travelers. Tiburzi's di- 
rections were that there should be no wanton taking of life; 
and, in spite of the fact that assassination was resorted to 
when considered necessary, he looked upon himself as not 
only justifiable but moderate, and frequently boasted of 
his freedom from cruelty. 

With him there was but one unpardonable crime, that of 
the informer, and for this, punishments were inflicted be- 

57 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

yond measure terrible. A person merely suspected was 
often beaten to the point of being disabled for weeks; but a 
proved spy was killed and sometimes with torture. Often 
not only death but extermination was the penalty, a whole 
family being wiped out for the offence of a single mem- 
ber. 

On one occasion Tiburzi, with two or three followers, ap- 
peared suddenly upon the threshing-floor of such an in- 
former, a contadino in good circumstances. Some twenty 
neighbors were there assembled at the time. Singling out 
the householder and his son, Tiburzi said: "You have 
exactly ten minutes to live. I give you these to enable you 
to make a will if you have not already done so. Dispose of 
your property and repeat a prayer if you choose." 

No word of remonstrance or denial was listened to. In- 
deed it was hardly attempted after the first instant of 
agonized amazement. Those present, far from any effort 
at protecting their companions or resisting the sentence 
pronounced upon them, stood as if turned to stone. At the 
end of the ten minutes the two men were ordered to place 
themselves against a wall, the bandits shot them and 
walked away. 

The reverse side of such horrors as these is the protec- 
tion often afforded the unoffending peasantry. One day a 
debtor came to Tiburzi in distress; he was owing three 
hundred lire to his landlord, a hard man who would not 
listen to the excuse that his contadino had been unfortu- 
nate. The money was due in a week and not a lire was 
ready to satisfy the debt. "Come to me in five days," said 
Tiburzi, "and you shall have the money." Tiburzi then 
easily ascertained the first opportunity of a favorable en- 
counter with the landlord, and meeting him not far from 
his own door, challenged him, but allowed him to ransome 
his Ufe for three hundred lire, to which he eagerly agreed, 
and Tiburzi pocketing the amount needed to satisfy the 

S8 




Magliano. Piazza San Martino. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

debt of the contadino, parted from the trembling landlord 
with a polite bow. 

In the latter part of Tiburzi's life the violence of his 
earlier years was laid aside. Severe discipline had shown 
the wisdom of capitulating with him, and the assassination 
of a few of those who resisted contributing their share to 
his income had aided in bringing about a clear and general 
understanding. Murder and robbery were therefore no 
longer resorted to excepting, always, in case of betrayal 
and occasionally as a punishment for disobedience on such 
an occasion as the following. 

Some of Tiburzi's younger followers setting out one day 
to range the countryside for prey, captured a young artist 
and brought him triumphantly before their leader. 
Tiburzi glanced from the terrified youth to his captors 
with a satirical expression. "So you went after a deer and 
have brought me a rabbit," he remarked dryly. Turning 
to the boy he said, "I have seen you going more than once 
to the castle of the Baroness M. You are probably a 
relative of hers." "No, Signor, I go to that castle only to 
paint frescoes, though once in a while I get an order for a 
small portrait. Out of it all I contrive to earn enough to 
eat, though Httle more." "Yours is a useless trade," 
rejoined Tiburzi, "but you do not seem to be overpaid." 
A few words from Biagini convinced him that the lad had 
spoken the truth, and turning to him again, he took from 
his pocket some coins and said, "You may go. Here are 
two scudi. See that you speak to no one of your visit 
here," and appointing Basil, one of his men, to show the 
boy his way to the highroad, he turned away from the 
young painter's expressions of gratitude. The guide led 
the artist for a mile or more through the woods, reflecting 
the while on the folly of bestowing such a sum of money 
upon a worthless painter. Presently they came out upon a 
jutting clifF which commanded a magnificent view. The 

59 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

artist whose heart overflowed with joy at his release and 
the generosity of the brigand, stood still and exclaimed 
with delight at the wild and beautiful prospect spread out 
before him. At the same moment, Basil, who had slunk 
behind him, raised his gun and fired; the poor boy dropped 
to the ground without a cry. The aim of the assassin had 
been unerring. No compunction visited the robber, he 
possessed himself of the two scudi, flung the body into a 
ravine, and returned to the camp. 

Biagini, who had already convicted Basil of what he 
looked upon as wanton cruelty and outrage, now kept an 
observant eye upon him and soon intimated to Tiburzi 
that he suspected the robbery and murder of the artist 
who had been given safe conduct. "Search Basil and you 
will find the two scudi as testimony," said Biagini. 
"Question him, he cannot meet your eye. I have told you 
before that it is injuring our reputation to keep him with 
us, a savage beast, shedding innocent blood and commit- 
ting useless crimes.** "If this is true, there shall be 
punishment,'* said Tiburzi. "Basil knows my rule, I 
never kill unless circumstances oblige me to, and especially 
am I against it where there is no advantage gained for 
us.** 

An investigation followed. Basil was forced to a con- 
fession and received short shrift. Once convinced, Tiburzi 
shot him with his own hand, the body was conveyed to the 
edge of the forest and left where the carahinieri discovered 
it two days later. Fastened upon the breast was a paper 
containing the words, "Because he was bloodthirsty.** 

Tiburzi was uniformly benevolent to the poor in his dis- 
trict, visiting their homes and distributing money freely 
when, in their need, they appealed to him. Indeed he was 
frequently called in to settle disputes, and as he showed 
both impartiality and good judgment, his verdict was 
accepted without discussion. As for the wealthy clients 

60 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

binteriy crimson and breathless, arrived at the cottage, and 
asked eagerly whether it was suspected that two notorious 
robbers were in that vicinity. The contadina could not 
forbear a smile as she pointed to the remains of the feast 
and mentioned the names of her guests whom she knew to 
be already beyond danger. 

During the long career of Tiburzi he had by no means 
always lain concealed in the forest. From time to time he 
emerged and appeared in various places, jovial, richly 
dressed, spending money freely. Thus he returned openly 
to Cellere, his native town, to attend the wedding of a 
daughter. He visited Rimini upon the occasion of his son's 
entering the army, and he frequently went to Rome where 
he enjoyed the gayeties of many a crowded festa. But the 
consequences of such a career can never be restricted to 
a retribution visited upon the transgressor alone. 

Many implicated willingly or unwillingly in his actions 
suffered — both those who were more or less guilty of com- 
pHcity and those humble peasants who had been succored 
by him and who had shared their food with him. Three 
years before his death a series of memorable trials took 
place in Viterbo which resulted in the condemnation of 
nearly fifty persons accused of aiding him. Of his seven 
relatives living in the town of Cellere, all were condemned, 
justly or unjustly, to from three to seven years of im- 
prisonment. 

The security of a brigand did not increase with time. 
Almost without exception his end was a violent one, 
especially if he preferred battle to capture and prison. 
There were seventeen judgments against Tiburzi and al- 
though he may have smiled while they accumulated, as the 
years went on, more frequent and determined efforts were 
made to exterminate offenders of his type. 

One evening in the autumn of 1896 Tiburzi and 
Fioravanti stopped at a cottage near Capalbio and asked 

63 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

hospitality for the night. This was naturally granted, and 
after supper, as the two brigands sat with the family before 
the fire, Tiburzi related some of the many romantic ad- 
ventures of his career. His hearers commented upon his 
hairbreadth escapes and the great strength with which he 
had effected them. 

"Yes," he rejoined, "I am seventy, and I count upon 
another ten years. "Still," he added musingly, "I may 
not have more than an hour to live." 

He was strangely right. A little later in the night the 
cottage was surrounded by carabinieri. The brigands 
seized their arms and rushed from the house. A desperate 
fight took place but they were overwhelmed by numbers 
and Tiburzi fell, fatally wounded. As the carabinieri bent 
over him, he murmured : 

"Seek no further. I am Tiburzi, the King of the 
Macchia." 





*<- :irV 







Magliano. Church of the Annunziata 



CHAPTER V 

Magliano — Pereta — Scansano — Roccalbegna Roc- 
CHETTE Di Fazio — Compagnatico — Paganico 

AGLIANO is a little aristocrat among 
hill towns. As you approach it from 
the sea the circle of its mellow golden 
walls rests like a crown upon the 
eminence it covers. Green banks lie 
about it full of tangled vines and flow- 
ering bushes, and not far from the 
gate a twisted olive droops to shelter a 
Uttle shrine. At certain points high 
up in the walls small, rectangular openings pierce the 
surface like windows peering from a cliff, but the banners 
that float from these casements are the product of humble 
laundry work. At the top no Guelf or Ghibelline battle- 
ments meet the eye, but instead a finish of archetti very 
graceful and decorative. 

6S 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

The mediaeval age had come to an end at the time 
these walls rose in the fifteenth century. Very massive 
are they and strengthened by many a ruined projecting 
tower, here and there hung with the green of vigorous ivy. 
But although in its present exterior Magliano is more 
youthful than many of its sister towns it owns an object 
precious to history, for in the flanking tower of its southern 
gateway, the Porta San Giovanni, which belongs to an 
earlier date, is embedded a shield bearing the coat of arms 
of the Aldobrandeschi, the red lion rampant and the im- 
perial eagle. Small and insignificant it appears there; the 
careless eye would quite overlook it, yet it is the only 
heraldic memorial of the family left in its original position 
in all the broad Maremma where those famous and fero- 
cious warriors held sway as far back as the eleventh 
century. The tower has crumbled till but two or three 
courses of stone remain above the little shield; may the 
people of Magliano have a care lest some day it should 
drop from its place and be lost forever. If we retreat still 
further into the past of Magliano, it has also its Etruscan 
memorials, indeed it has been warmly argued that the site 
of the lost city of Vetulonia should be looked for here, but 
be that as it may, its soil has the honor to have yielded a 
unique and mysterious Etruscan relic, the so-called Piombo 
of MagHano. This is a little leaden tablet, an irregular 
oval in shape, about five inches in length, covered with 
small engraved characters following the lines of a coiled 
serpent. Investigation has shown it to be a ritual, not yet 
deciphered, for votive offerings to certain Etruscan 
deities. The little object now lives in a special glass case in 
the Archaeological Museum of Florence where it may be 
seen by the curious. 

But all this time we are lingering at the gate of Magliano 
thinking upon her past and looking out the while upon the 
broad plain and the sparkling sea beyond, which form her 

66 




Magliano. The Town Wall. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

western prospect, standing as she does upon the first ram- 
part of the hill country. Orbetello is in sight, a thin line 
of white against the blue mass of Monte Argentario, and 
nearer are wide level fields of cultivation and straightly 
traced canals covering the area where once lay the 
pestilent swamp of Talamone that in those days was 
broken only by thickets of stunted olive and gnarled, 
sickly apple trees tangled and weighted with ropes of 
grapevine, all lapsed to wildness. Passing through the 
gateway of MagHano its streets are seen to be unusually 
clean and open to the light. In the sunny little piazza of 
San Martino there is a quaint and pleasant friendliness. 
Little dwellings of gracious proportion are entered by out- 
side staircases mounting to pilastered porticoes embel- 
lished with arches and lines of moulding, and carnations 
droop from their pots on the parapet. Wayward sloping 
roofs throw lovely complicated shadows, and the walls are 
of mingled brick and stone. Once they were covered with 
plaster, but much of it has fallen away, to their enhance- 
ment, for the varied colors of their present surface melt 
into a harmony of tone very agreeable to the eye. There is 
also the touch given by a fine well-head and an archi- 
tectural chimney finished with tiny columns, while the 
severe little church of San Martino fills one side of the 
piazza relieved by its campanile a vela. 

Upon the main street are more important structures, a 
Palazzo del Podesta two stories in height with a pleasant 
loggia, very solidly built and finely roofed, pillared, and 
adorned with many coats of arms. Then there is the 
palazzo of Checco Bello so-called, with its once beautiful 
fa9ade. Its exquisite arched window frames with their 
slender columns are walled up, and small square holes 
have been irregularly cut through and glazed, for modem 
convenience, in a way to set one's teeth on edge; still the 
old openings have not been plastered over and the stone, 

67 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

rich in color, with which they are filled, leaves the framing 
free. And who was the comely Checco for whom this 
charming palazzino in far-away Magliano was built? One 
fancies him brave and captivating, as well as handsome; 
making many friends welcome to his little palace full of 
hospitable gayety; and in sterner times one sees him 
gallantly fighting for his city and returning victorious 
through its gateway. But if we thus speculate we take an 
interest not shared by the present inhabitants. Questions 
concerning him elicit nothing more than a smile and a 
shrug, with the exclamation, "Who knows.?" 

A short distance outside the Porta San Giovanni lies the 
small church of the Annunziata, humble casket of a price- 
less treasure. Its exterior is of the plainest while the in- 
terior is as usual coarsely whitewashed, to the loss of the 
frescoes that once bloomed full of color upon its walls. A 
few of these frescoes have been brought to light again, 
among them that of a golden-haired boy saint with a 
lance resting against his shoulder while his blue eyes 
glance aside in a gentle revery. But over the altar hangs a 
painting of the Madonna by that exquisite artist Neroccio 
di Landi. Bending a little, she is suckling the infant upon 
her knees, while her charming, serious face looks out of the 
canvas and meets the gaze of the beholder. With de- 
votional vandalism, coarse gilt crowns have been nailed 
upon the heads of mother and child and strings of beads 
fastened about their throats, yet even this one can forget 
in the contemplation of their loveliness. To find in a 
sweet, remote place like this anything so beautiful, still 
resting undisturbed in its own tiny sanctuary, is the keen- 
est of pleasures. One lingers and enjoys undisturbed, 
and if it be a soft spring afternoon as it was when I last 
saw it, even the beckoning of flower, leaf, and fragrance 
beyond the doorway cannot make it easy to leave it. But 
at last I did so and walked down the grassy alleys of an old 

68 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




San Bruzio 



olive garden where slanting shafts of sunlight fell between 
the ancient trunks and here and there lighted tufts of wild 
flowers. 

A short distance beyond it I came to the mound where 
rise the ruins of San Bruzio, that massive fragment of a 
vast church or abbey whose history is now lost. The 
centuries have passed it by but still it stands there in 
lonely grandeur with its fine proportions and reticent em- 
bellishment giving it dignity, while out of what is left of its 
great polygonal tower a little tree grows and spreads a 
scanty shade over one of its angles. Here, happy in a 
companionship such as fortunate chance encounters bring 
to one in Tuscany, I lingered through the last hour before 
departure and when it came to an end and good-byes had 
been said I carried away with me, to be added to the stored 
recollections of Magliano, the memory of an unexpected 
hospitality oflFered graciously and enjoyed keenly, the 
remembrance of a certain high, fair chamber full of quiet 

69 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

comfort and the subdued color of old furnishings, books, 
and pictures, and of windows which looked forth from it 
above the wall of the city over miles of the green loveli- 
ness of Italy in May. 

Beyond Magliano the road mounts and takes to the 
spine of a ridge mapped like "the way of a serpent on a 
rock" as it stretches to the northeast to meet Monte 
Amiata. Many Httle streams have their sources in this 
long elevation; those on the south flowing into the Albegna, 
those on the north, into the Ombrone, and beautiful views 
lie on either hand. Through sun and shade we proceed, 
between the loveliest hedges in the world, for where else 
can one find so many delightful things growing in harmony 
and rejoicing together in the warmth of early spring? 
There are the hawthorns putting forth pink and white 
blossoms, the arbutus, the brier rose, and the honeysuckle 
coming into flower, the wild fig sending its vigorous shoots 
aloft and the clematis, blackberry, and ivy busily binding 
all together. On the white road winding between these 
sweet boundaries we soon begin to meet flocks of sheep 
starting out upon their journey to the Casentino or the 
Pistojese. They are not so numerous now as they used to 
be, for then they thronged such long spaces that for vehi- 
cles and horses to pass was a diflScult matter. It was also 
hard upon the sheep, and the shepherds had a way of dis- 
couraging trayel — that of teaching their dogs to bite the 
heels of the horses encroaching upon the roads while the 
sheep were being moved. 

A few miles beyond Magliano a pretty little town comes 
in sight, upon a tabled hill, most gratifyingly placed and 
composed. There is the white ribbon of the road encircling 
it and arriving with a fine sweep at its gate where upon the 
right hand is a short, sturdy tower and upon the left a 
palazzino with a garden and pretty loggia; beyond you see 
two small campanili and farther, at the highest point, one 

70 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Pereta. The Gateway 

thin tower against the sky, tall, windowless, of the kind 
that used to be manned by a few archers, shooting through 
the arrow slits at the top. Thus Pereta stands nestling in 
olive trees and looking out upon many another hill with a 
glimpse of the River Castrione below. There are remains of 
its old wall and the usual stone-flagged streets full of sup- 
porting arches, aerial bridges, loggias, outside staircases, 
and stone benches. Flowers bloom in windows and iron 
rings are driven into the walls to hold flower pots, in the 
pretty Tuscan fashion. The place was never of great im- 
portance and has no crumbling palaces to show, but it is 
clean and self-respecting and has a little church of grace- 
ful proportions with arched doorway and rose window, 
built of stone whose tone is of gold and bronze marked with 
wide veinings of deep red, quite beautiful and striking. 

71 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Against the front of it are worn stone seats from which 
criminals were judged long ago. After condemnation they 
were placarded and tied against the wall, to be execrated, 
spat upon, and kicked for the twenty-four hours before 
their execution. Such were the gentle usages of past 
times. To-day kinder manners are encouraged in Pereta, 
and though visitors are few and their advent awakens a 
pardonable curiosity, it is kept well within bounds. There 
is no begging and the children do not crowd and press upon 
strangers, for at the least suggestion of overstepping the 
bounds of decorum a warning shout of "0 che!" from their 
elders is heard and obeyed. 

The Aldobrandeschi ruled Pereta in the thirteenth 
century, but because they refused their owed homage to 
the republic of Siena a band of cavalry was sent down 
there to bring them to account. After this, having 
acknowledged Siena, they kept Pereta for another hundred 
years till it was taken from them and divided, one half to 
Siena and one half to the Pope. Its importance in the 
fourteenth century may be estimated by the fact that **it 
maintained a castellan and five soldiers as a garrison." 
Later it passed from owner to owner by sale orbyheritage, 
till at last the distracted people proposed to give them- 
selves back to the Aldobrandeschi of Santa Fiora, but 
Francesco Minucci, who happened to own the town at that 
time, getting wind of this insubordination, sent a few 
mercenaries whom he introduced secretly into the castle 
and forced the people to capitulate. In the end it was 
turned over to the sole ownership of Siena in 1384, after 
which it is to be hoped the unhappy little place enjoyed 
more peaceful conditions for a time, though the fact that 
Siena never treated her dependents well gives little 
security for such hopes. It must have been centuries 
before Pereta assumed the sweet pastoral air it has to- 
day. 

72 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

In the afternoon of the day I arrived I wandered 
through the town, meaning by tortuous ways to find the 
foot of that tall thin tower before mentioned, which 
formed Pereta's apex as one views it from a distance. The 
street dwindled to a flinty path, and several turns of it 
brought me to a little terrace, close to which sprang the 
tower. As I faced it I stood near an open doorway in which 
presently appeared two young women, one blonde, one 
black haired. Very attractive, very fresh and comely they 
looked, as they smiled and came out upon the terrace to 
offer the hospitality of it to a stranger. Of course we 
talked, and after a little they invited me into their house. 
It was a singularly attractive home. First a large, orderly 
kitchen hung with shining copper, the middle of it occu- 
pied by a long table of good proportion and substantial 
make. Then came a spacious parlor, clean and most com- 
fortably furnished. This was lighted by a window that 
overlooked the town below, and the walls of it were much 
adorned with primitive pictures. 

My acquaintances knew something of the traditions of 
their village, which is not common among the dwellers in 
such places and they were ready to speak of them. We 
talked of the tower and they mentioned Nello Pan- 
nocchieschi; from that one high window at the top he had 
flung himself out of remorse for the death of the hapless 
Pia. But had he not at once married a second time, I 
ventured. Yes, yes, but it was true all the same, he had 
discovered her innocence, and self-accusation had worked 
in him till he could bear it no longer. They were eager in 
asserting their belief in the tragedy. Perhaps the only 
foundation for the story exists in the minds of those whose 
sense of justice being aff"ronted insist upon atonement, but 
no doubt of it lay in the minds of these two. It was a 
pleasant hour I spent there and when I had left them, I 
looked back from the last point of the descent at which I 

7Z 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

could see the western window in the high wall of their 
home. The fine rose color of the old brick that formed that 
wall was enriched by the sunset light that now suffused it, 
and the two pretty heads, the black and the golden, were 
framed in the window, from which smiling adieux were 
waved. 

A few miles from Pereta, still following the mountain 
road, one passes through Scansano, brown, compact town, 
well placed but not interesting excepting for its two della 
Robbias, a charming one in the open air and a less interest- 
ing one in the church, and for its fine view. For all that it 
appears so buried in a labyrinth of hills I could see from 
Capalbio to Monte Amiata looking out of the window of 
one of its towers. 

It may be well to note here for the benefit of searchers 
after the picturesque that if Scansano is approached from 
the north — that is directly from Grosseto — instead of from 
the south, the road passes by Istia d'Ombrone. This place 
was formerly a notorious den of bandits, but nowthattheir 
day has passed it is inhabited by a busy agricultural pop- 
ulation, inspiring no dread as one halts to admire the fine 
grouping of castle and dwellings it presents. Beside it the 
River Ombrone widens to a broad sheet of water and 
becomingly reflects the gray walls that on the southern 
boundary of the village descend into it. 

Continuing the journey and still following the ridge 
before mentioned, the road dips after a while to the level 
of the Albegna River where beside it lies the forgotten 
little town of Roccalbegna, set like a modest jewel, shining, 
but not for the indiscriminate. 

Its church and the houses grouped about it are fitted 
compactly between two pyramidal masses of rock, the one 
topped by a fortress, the other leveled at the summit by 
a villa and its garden. Precipices and avalanches of 
shattered stone threaten it from the rear, while in front 

74 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

wooded hills span the horizon, leaving a small open valley 
for olives and vines. 

It was past noon when we came in sight of it, and having 
started without fixed plans we were carrying food with us. 
It seemed prudent to pass through and at a safe distance 
beyond it take our meal, free of beggars and crowding 
children, returning afterward for further exploration. We 
did not yet know Roccalbegna. So we traversed the vil- 
lage and motored on, describing a wide semicircle and com- 
ing out upon the opposite hillside, from which there was a 
comprehensive view of the place, in all its daring pictures- 
queness. We drew up in the shade and enjoyed it. It was 
easy to see that Roccalbegna — in a mountain pass, with 
an unscalable wall at its back and a pedestal rising from 
a position admirably fitted for a fortress — ^was a point 
advantageous to fortify, and Siena had done it. How the 
materials for building were ever conveyed up the per- 
pendicular walls upon which the castle stands is incom- 
prehensible. The town was also enclosed, but hardly a 
trace of this remains beyond one gateway in a fragment of 
flower-draped wall. 

Just outside this gate (as I later discovered) is a small 
chapel, apparently unused at present but containing a 
relic of great rarity, a hand-litter, fashioned with an 
elegance that reminds one of the old Roman type. The 
shafts are now laced with but a rough network of rope, 
but the legs upon which it rests are carefully modeled and 
the high head-and foot-boards are carved with pilasters and 
mouldings which frame devotional paintings of rich color. 
Altogether it is a buried treasure that in its damp, un- 
ventilated retirement is not cared for as it should be. 

As we were finishing our bread and excellent pecorinOy 
our red wine and fruit, we descried eight adventurous little 
boys starting forth from the town to inspect us. They ap- 
proached slowly in a compact company and halted some 

75 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

two hundred feet away. From that point they gravely 
gazed at us for a while, a bright-faced, cleanly dressed 
little group. They ventured no nearer but appeared to be 
comparing opinions of us in low tones. Presently they 
turned and began quietly gatheringwild flowers and arrang- 
ing them across the smooth floor of the road which we 
should pass in retracing our way. They were not doing it 
carelessly but with method, separating the blossoms from 
their stems and laying them carefully in a pattern. It was 
pretty to watch their busy cooperation; we looked on from 
a distance and wondered. 

The supply of sweets we liked to carry for children was 
low. Calculation proved it would be well to make an in- 
dividual distribution lest all should not share aUke. We 
called an invitation to the children but they were too shy 
to approach. 

Not till we had urgently tempted them did the older 
ones come slowly forward. As for the youngest he had to 
be. carried, overcome with bashfulness, in the arms of an 
older brother, to receive his share. After this they retired 
again and waited till it was time for us to cross the flowery 
bridge they had prepared. This we did slowly with 
recognition and ceremony, and the little builders watched 
us with smiling satisfaction and then followed us back to 
the town. 

There we alighted and began to stroll about. With 
quickened interest we now paid more attention to the 
aspect of Roccalbegna and its population. We found the 
streets clean; not a beggar to be seen, and the people pleas- 
ant but not idly curious. The women, knitting or sewing in 
their doorways, looked up and smiled, and one, younger 
and more eager than the rest, questioned us. Finding we 
were from that fabulous land called America of which 
stories had reached her, she exclaimed: "And you have 
traveled so far and yet stop to look at Roccalbegna? I 

76 



r 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

should like well to travel myself!" Here she laughed 
merrily at so audacious a thought. With the palm of her 
hand upward she spread her fingers and thumb and 
brought them together quickly two or three times, adding 
significantly, "One must have the pennies!" She pursed 
her pretty lips and laughed again but without discontent. 
Framed in the crumbling stone of her gray doorway she 
looked a thing too fresh and flower-like for that mediaeval 
setting. Above her head rose out of the past one of those 
ancient towers, straight and stark as a chimney, beyond 
loomed the broken castle on its crag, but just as the yellow 
stonecrop shone from the rent wall near her, so her beauty 
lighted the shadowed street and her blithe content must 
sweeten the lives of those about her. 

Slowly we walked on and presently discovering a slim 
campanile beyond a congeries of roofs, its one arch holding 
a single bell suspended against a blue background of sky, 
we began to follow the turns and ascents that led toward 
it. We soon arrived at the foot of it for nothing can be far 
away in Roccalbegna, and found it standing, in the Lom- 
bard style, apart from the low, rough church to which it 
belonged. The door of the latter was being opportunely 
unlocked by a young priest. He looked a gentle welcome 
and also a little surprise, but was glad to let us enter the 
tiny sanctuary which is called the Santissimo Crocifisso, 
and contains as its name implies an especially holy cruci- 
fix. Large and of fine Sienese workmanship, this relic 
is greatly revered as it once stayed the ravages of the 
cholera. Every year this deliverance is commemorated, 
but once in four years there is a more important cele- 
bration when all the people of the village, walking bare- 
footed, carry it in procession. 

The little church was bare inside but very clean and 
besides the crucifix, possessed a bell which the priest 
wished us to hear for its beautiful tone; he rang it for us 

n 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and it was indeed of a melodious resonance which lingered 
long on the air. He asked us if we had also visited the 
parish church and offered to go there with us. For the 
charm of his presence and for his sweet lingua Toscandy 
we followed him gladly. It was but a step to the piazza of 
which the church, with its fine severe facade broken only 
by an interesting portal and a large rose window, occupied 
one side. It is said to have been adorned with terra- 
cotta medallions in times past, but now possesses only 
the beauty of sombre but rich color in its stone surface, un- 
disfigured by any application of plaster or tint. We en- 
tered the rather dark interior and found several pictures of 
the Sienese school. In one. Saint Peter seated erect and 
unbending against his dim gold background, held upright 
the crosier whose crook terminated in a fish with wing- 
like fins; while St. Paul the Hermit, with sword supported 
perpendicularly upon his knee, seemed listening intently to 
his attendant raven whose beak touched his ear. There 
was, too, a quaint oblique-eyed madonna — a small choice 
thing — inserted in a big irrelevant canvas in the strange 
fashion sometimes adopted, and there was little else. 

Something of a different nature there was, however, that 
attracted the attention. Before the high altar were tables 
arranged so as to form three sides of a large parallelogram. 
They were low, and spread with white, lace-edged covers 
over scarlet. The celebration of first communion had just 
taken place, the young priest told us. It looked a more 
than ample board for the year's crop of little catechumens 
and I said so. He smiled and explained that the table was 
made large enough to seat not only the children of the 
present year, but also those who had been received the 
year previous. It had been a most beautiful, a most 
sacred day and the flowers — they were never so lovely be- 
fore. That part of the pavement on the inner side of the 
bordering table had been quite covered. 

78 




Roccalbegna. The Castle. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

"And all with wild flowers?" 

My thoughts had gone back to the little flower-gatherers 
on the hill. 

"Yes, truly, a flower mosaic. Would I perhaps," he 
asked diffidently, "care to see the diagram of the pattern.?'* 

I expressed the gratification it would be. He flushed 
with pleasure and flew to fetch it from the sacristy. It was 
drawn upon a large sheet of white paper symmetrically 
with many divisions, and in the central panel a Httle ship 
and a star. This design, outlined upon the floor, had been 
filled in with flower-petals of many tints. He showed the 
colors chosen, here rose, there white, here golden, but 
choicest of all, the centre — the background of the little ship 
— that was of purest blue, all laid in petals of tiny blossoms 
and then when all was completed and the hour had 
come, there above the bright parterre sat the children, 
their sweet faces themselves "like unto the angelical 
flowers, roses and Hlies, wherewith the celestial meadow 
is adorned." His eyes shone as he described it. 

In the slender ascetic body, in the youthful inspired 
face, I seemed to see the genius of the little town, the 
spirit that informed with gentleness the entire place, that 
taught both the young and the old sweet and courteous 
ways. Happy the children, happy the unfrequented vil- 
lage, where such a spirit guides ! 

Looking across from Roccalbegna one can see Rocchette 
di Fazio, pictorial from any point of view, where it hangs 
upon a clifF over the river. By climbing round the semi- 
circle of hills that borders the valley one may reach it, a 
little eyrie, less known, more neglected even than its 
neighbor, a harsh rocky bit of a stronghold denuded of its 
walls and castle, but commanding a prospect set with the 
perfection of a stage eff"ect. At the foot of its crag the 
Albegna traces a most graceful curve, its clear stream 
fringed with trees, and opposite rise hills of perfect con- 

79 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

tour, rock and forest alternating, while behind them lie the 
higher mountains. It is a prospect to dream over. No 
hurried survey can profit one in a spot such as this, its 
charm must be met with tranquillity and uncounted 
leisure. 

One threads the steep streets mainly by stairways, 
which I did and, at one point, came upon a tiny chapel. 
Though so small it was welded to the rock it stood on and 
constructed with a spreading foundation like a fortress. 
It is now unblessed and degraded to the condition of a 
storehouse containing heaps of lime. Because its builders 
meant its sacredness to last forever and for the simplicity 
and dignity of it, one longs to return it to its first use. 
Its restoration would be easily accomplished; first, the 
commerce in cement banished, the money changers cast 
out of the temple, for there would then be left its un- 
spoiled interior, the walls undisfigured by plaster or paint. 
I pictured a small severe altar there with one sacred picture 
above it, and there should be a Santa Cristina, in whose 
care the village appears to have been left, and no tawdri- 
ness tolerated anywhere. Perhaps it would give comfort 
to the simple people of these hills and on festival days its 
rough pavement would be carpeted with flowers, candles 
would burn on the little altar, and kneeling figures fill the 
floor space. 

As I sat on a low parapet near it, pleasing myself with 
thoughts of its rescue an old woman stepped out of a door- 
way opposite and smilingly handed me three pink roses, 
begging me to accept them "from an old woman very near 
eternity." Her bearing was so friendly, her manner so 
blithe, and yet in the poverty of that little hamlet the un- 
worthy thought came that some return for such a courtesy 
might be looked for. We greeted each other, I thanked 
her, and presently I led up to the offer of a bit of personal 
adornment, a bright kerchief for Sunday wear perhaps? 

80 




Rocchette di Fazio. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

She laughed gayly and with a wave of her hand exclaimed, 
"No, no, keep it for some younger woman, I am far too 
ugly!" and so disappeared into her little house, leaving me 
rebuked but not unhappy, glad to realize the independent 
spirit that lives where the thoughtless tourist seldom comes 
to misunderstand and corrupt. 

Campagnatico and Paganico are two interesting towns 
lying three miles apart in the valley of the Ombrone and 
easily seen during a day's excursion from Grosseto though 
they may also be approached from the north. A little to 
the east of Grosseto one crosses the river at Istia d'Om- 
brone and reaches Campagnatico after winding fifteen 
miles through hills haunted by charcoal burners. It is set 
high above the river on a scarp of the mountains. Once it 
was a valued stronghold, massively built, nearly impreg- 
nable; now smooth mounds or torn fragments show the 
circle of its ancient walls, and the robust church of San 
Giovanni on the verge of the steep above the river is al- 
most threatening in its likeness to a fortalice rather than a 
sanctuary. 

The town is of great age having been of note as far back 
as the tenth century, as a possession of the Aldobrandeschi 
along with the rest of the Maremma. When Siena, in the 
middle of the thirteenth century, began her struggle to 
bring that prepotent family under her authority, four 
turbulent brothers of the house were making commerce im- 
possible along the roads leading southward. Robber 
barons like their forbears, they preyed upon all travelers, 
and Siena and Orvieto put aside their perennial enmity 
and joined hands against them. One of these brothers was 
Guglielmo, Dante's '*Gran ToscOy" and it was his son, 
Omberto, whose name is especially connected with 
Campagnatico. "A youth of great courage and valorous " 
one of the old chroniclers calls him, but as he grew older he 
became to the last degree violent, arrogant, and cruel. He 

8i 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

refused to come to terms with Siena; on the contrary, he 
defied her, and, entrenching himself in Campagnatico, 
added all the strength possible to the walls, and gathering 
about him a band of warriors, continued vigorously to 
follow the favorite pursuit of the family. To his other 
qualities he added a craftiness that disguised the respon- 
sibihty for much of his marauding. Nursing always a 
fervor of hatred toward Siena he seems to have cared 
more for the satisfaction of outraging and murdering her 
traveling citizens than for the enjoyment of boasting of his 
triumphs. As an example of this the following story is re- 
lated of him. 

One day a number of young nobles left Siena for a hunt- 
ing party in the Maremma. Omberto, who contrived to be 
informed of every such happening, took care to have a 
band of his followers stationed in a favorable position upon 
the road they were sure to take. On the second day, as 
the hunters (quite unsuspectingly, for there happened at 
this time to be a temporary peace between Siena and Cam- 
pagnatico) came gayly toward the ambush, they were 
suddenly attacked. Although taken at a disadvantage 
they fought with such spirit that they succeeded in defend- 
ing themselves and at last putting their foes to flight. 
After this, hot with indignation, they galloped back to 
Siena and loudly demanded that instant vengeance be 
visited upon the false Omberto. 

At this moment Siena's hands were full and to despatch 
fighting men on this errand was out of the question. Mes- 
sengers, however, were sent with stern requirement of an 
explanation. Omberto with his usual cunning professed 
deep regret for what had occurred, declared the attack 
to have been unauthorized by him, and promised that the 
offenders should be suitably punished. Thereupon he 
actually had several of his own men executed, announcing 
in Campagnatico that this penalty was exacted by reason 

82 




a 
o 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Campagnatico. Church or San Giovanni Battista 

of their lack of success, while abroad he declared they had 
suffered for their vicious and unwarranted attack upon the 
esteemed citizens of a friendly town. A statement to this 
effect was drawn up and sent to Siena in the hands of 
pompous ambassadors accompanied by a numerous suite. 
This company also bore with it two or three horses and a 
few weapons which had been left by the Sienese upon the 
field where the fighting took place. 

All this did not deceive Siena, but as it was politic at the 

83 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

time not to proceed to hostilities, a new treaty of peace as 
valuable as the former one was signed, after which Om- 
berto continued to conduct himself precisely as before. 
For example, not very long afterward a noble of Siena, 
with his daughter and a small escort, left the city for a 
point on the Maremma to the south of Campagnatico. 
They did not return was nor anything to be ascertained 
concerning their disappearance. It was for a time con- 
sidered that the whole party must have been destroyed by 
wolves, who then infested that part of Tuscany, but, later, 
a disaffected retainer of Omberto brought proof that both 
father and daughter had been abducted and, after shocking 
ill treatment, had been killed. 

Thus matters proceeded and we read that "he held in 
tribulation the whole Maremma.'" When he could be en- 
dured no longer, Siena, reinforced by many whom he had 
outraged, moved against him. Omberto prepared for 
them and held out as long as untiring vigilance and gallant 
fighting could serve, but, at length, the besiegers carried 
the place by storm. They forced an entry, they poured 
into the streets, beating back all resistance. There was no 
further hope, but Omberto spurned the thought of sur- 
render. To yield would mean to be led a captive to Siena, 
to be triumphed over, to be tortured, and to die a death of 
ignominy. Armed from head to foot, he lashed himself 
upon his armored horse. A very centaur of bronze he must 
have looked. His avenging foes crowded shouting into the 
piazza, there he confronted them and for a brief moment 
they recoiled at the sight of him, then with a great cry 
they set upon him, a plunging, struggling mass. Desper- 
ately he fought and before they made an end of him he had 
slaughtered many. His horse was killed and fell under 
him, and still he raved defiance and hewed with fury at 
those nearest him, till, at last, borne down by numbers, 
he was slain. So it was he chose death; guilt-stained 

84 




Paganico. Porta Gorella. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

but indomitable, there he lay, a warrior killed, not con- 
quered. 

In Purgatory, Dante meets him among that group of 
stooping figures bearing enormous stones. So bent is he, 
so heavily laden, that he mourns his inability to raise his 
head even so far as to see whether he recognizes the poet. 
His arrogance is subdued. The fierce warrior submits in 
patience to the punishment of the proud. 

"I was Italian," he says, "born of a great Tuscan, 
Guglielmo Aldobrandesco was my father. I know not 
whether you have heard his name." 

Thus humble is he even concerning the fame of his 
princely house. 

It was in the year 1259 that Omberto met his death, and 
thereafter his stout city suffered the scourges of war and 
malaria till it fell into ruin and was almost completely 
abandoned. Thus it languished till in the eighteenth 
century, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopoldo I, brought 
it back to life. He saw the rich soil below it lying untilled. 
He recognized the advantages of its high position and of 
the winds which drew through the river valley for the 
control of malaria, and with energy and generosity he 
made it again habitable. The memorials of its warhke 
history did not interest him, perhaps there were few to 
save. At present one of its towered gateways much tamed 
and remodeled holds the broad, conspicuous face of the 
town clock so loved by the Tuscans of to-day. 

I cannot help fancying the earlier spirit of the place per- 
sists to a certain degree. On my arrival I was at once sur- 
rounded by children who clung like burs, largely boister- 
ous and unruly little boys who followed and jostled and 
even profaned the church with their noisy pranks, heedless 
of the loud rebukes hurled at them by the plump and testy 
priest who was doing the honors of Campagnatico. The 
church we were visiting at the moment was San Giovanni 

85 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Battista, that of the stem, high-shouldered presence and 
the broken tower, of which mention was made before. We 
stood looking at some frescoes by Bartolo di Fredi in the 
choir, primitive and vigorous presentations of the story of 
the Virgin, but presently we stepped outside and stood 
against the back of the apse, from which point we saw the 
Ombrone flowing far below, green as beryl between steep 
green hills. We could trace its windings to the tall gateway 
of Paganico, three miles away, and thither we went a little 
later. 

Before Paganico the Ombrone spreads out in pebbly 
shallows and broad still pools, and from its banks rise the 
pictorial walls of the town, half embowered in green, 
while, on all sides, wooded hills shut in the narrow valley. 
In the bushes beside the river nightingales make vocal 
even the mornings in the month of May; the spring is too 
intoxicating, and they cannot wait till evening to take part 
in the beauty about them. One is beguiled into loitering 
there to listen and gaze before entering the town. As I sat 
in the shade there came slowly down the flowery path 
bordering the bank a young woman; a single glance showed 
her to be a rebuke to idleness. Judge if she did not display 
industry and versatility. She carried twin babies, one on 
either arm, a child of four clung to her skirt, her hands 
were busy with knitting, and she drove before her five 
geese. The geese, intolerably tempted by the ditch at one 
side of the path, gave her trouble; undaunted she sur- 
mounted it; yet she was not a stern person, but willing to 
stop and chat with idle wayfarers, and answer their odd 
questions which show such ignorance. We talked of the 
advantages of Paganico as against those of Campagnatico. 
We could see the latter where it looked down at us from its 
height. I heard that malaria was less dreaded now; that 
geese were in danger from predatory animals out of the 
woods so close by; but that travelers — and here she smiled 

86 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

— need no longer dread the "Padrone of Paganico"; that 
last, however, is a story that must be told later. 

Looking about me I could comprehend what malaria 
must have been there in the past for the bottom of the 
valley lies but a few feet above sea level. Tradition says 
that in the time of the Romans this curse was looked upon 
as neither a warning nor a punishment, but simply as the 
whim of a capricious goddess. The tormented people 
therefore decided to erect a temple in the hope of propitiat- 
ing her, and they inscribed upon it : 

Paganico Populo 

DlV^ M^PHIT^ 

Sac 

But the goddess disdained them; there was no relief, the 
population sickened or fled away, and the settlement be- 
came ruinous and was abandoned; so that when, in the 
tenth century, the followers of the Emperor Otto, coming 
down from the north, arrived upon the spot they found it 
deserted. Discovering among the remains of the fallen 
temple to the implacable goddess a portion of the inscrip- 
tion, they accepted the first word as the name of the place, 
not recognizing its meaning to be merely the rustic popula- 
tion, the tillers of the soil. If the reader will not accept this 
legend he may begin with the Ardengheschi, first feudal 
lords of the region, who were established in Paganico in the 
thirteenth century but who lost it to Siena in 1278. Its 
acquisition was of great advantage to Siena who made it 
her southern boundary, strongly fortified it and began at- 
tempts to drain the surrounding marshes. 

All this added greatly to the importance of Paganico 
but also caused it to be the victim of a long series of sieges, 
sacks, and burnings. In 1328, the town had to deal with 

87 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Castruccio himself, who on the way to take Montemassi 
for the detested Emperor Ludovico, found himself resisted 
by little Paganico, garrisoned at that time by a band of 
mercenaries in the pay of Siena. He soon reduced it, but, 
it is said, did it no great harm and after occupying it for a 
few days left it to proceed to Montemassi which he also 
subdued, but was presently obliged to leave, having placed 
a garrison there. These two triumphs were more than 
Siena could bear and she called upon her Captain of War, 
Guidoriccio da Fogliano, to retrieve these losses. This he 
did and came back covered with glory. Siena received him 
with the wildest demonstrations of joy and this particular 
exploit is commemorated in Simone Martini's splendid 
fresco on the wall of the Sala di Consiglio where Guidoric- 
cio, calm and confident, sallies forth upon his grandly ca- 
parisoned steed to the victory he is sure of. 

Other attacks Paganico suffered but before the middle 
of the sixteenth century it enjoyed a series of prosperous 
years. For its loyalty to Siena it was especially favored. 
Great magazines of grain from the rich soil about it stood 
within its wa Is and much treasure in gold coin was also 
stored there. In their remote valley the people must have 
felt security and enjoyment, believing that, after all, 
civilization had progressed and times and manners amelio- 
rated. 

If this pleasant illusion existed, it lasted but till the year 
1555. Then the Province of Siena was to be conquered and 
this was to be executed with thoroughness. Marignano, 
heading the forces of Cosimo dei Medici, appeared before 
the walls of Paganico. The brave little town refused to 
surrender; it was heroically defended, but it fell, and as a 
penalty for its resistance, was treated with dreadful bar- 
barity. Word went forth that no quarter should be given. 
The inhabitants desperately fought for their lives, the 
streets ran red with blood, and as the slaughter proceeded 

88 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

it was lighted by the fire of burning buildings. It could not 
have lasted long. Paganico is small; and in the morning 
only black smoke rose from the ruins under which the 
bodies of its people were buried. 

Time has smoothed away all these horrors; the town has 
been rebuilt, and there is nothing to remind one of the past 
excepting certain breaches in the walls, which, in spite of 
all the assaults upon them, still stand. They form a severe 
rectangle reinforced by many square towers and divided 
by four gates, two of them complete, two partly ruinous. 
Entering by the western portal, you find yourself upon an 
empty weed-grown piazza, bordered with stone benches, 
under the insufficient shade of thin trees. The church of 
San Michele stands here, substantial and squarely towered. 
Within it is spacious, clean, and vacant;the floor is of brick 
and the hewn timbers of the roof are strapped with iron in 
the gable. During the two leisurely visits I paid its inter- 
ior, not even a sacristan appeared and the cool seclusion 
was very pleasant for there are interesting pictures and 
frescoes to examine. Over the portal hangs a madonna 
and saints, of much charm, by Andrea di Niccolo, unspoiled 
by restoration. There is, too, an Adoration of the Magi by 
Cozzarelli, and in the choir quaint and beautiful frescoes 
by Bartolo di Fredi. One set of panels portrays the judg- 
ment after death. Two souls, with clasped imploring 
hands, are weighed by a colossal angel, with unmoved 
countenance, while on the right appears a terrifying repre- 
sentation of the devil and the cavernous entrance to hell. 
On the left are grouped the saved, whose prayers take 
visible form above their heads as clusters of lilies. 

Passing beyond church and piazza the main street lies 
straight as an arrow from gate to gate. It is partly arcaded 
and lined with good and simple houses. No evidences of 
past grandeur remain, no fa9ades of palaces, which, if they 
ever existed, were doubtless destroyed when the town was 

89 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

so wickedly laid waste. Paganico is sparsely populated but 
it is a cleanly decent little place, free of beggars, and its in- 
conspicuous inn takes excellent care of travelers, so that no 
reason is discoverable for the contemptuous expression 
sometimes used in Siena by those excited to denunciation, 
"You were born among the bushes of Paganico!" {Gid 
set nato nelle macchie di Paganico.) That eccentric 
foreigners are seldom seen at the inn just mentioned was 
evident by the bearing of the hostess' family. The little 
maid who served us was of a rabbit-like shyness, the small 
brother gloomed upon us from afar but fled from friendly 
advances. However, an excellent meal was served us at 
noon. Shortly afterward one of our party of four, passing 
through the lower story, came upon the united family 
grouped about a table. Care sat upon their brows so that, 
being a sociable and sympathetic person, he lingered to 
find out the cause. As he afterward described it, "They 
were writing down, item by item, the account for the food 
just served us. They had reached a total of four lire and 
sixty centesimiy when I exclaimed magnificently, 'Make it 
five lire and the Signora will not utter a complaint!*" 
In awestruck silence the new figure was inscribed and the 
account was paid, as had been promised. 

After this the padrona with cheerful alacrity off'ered the 
best bedroom for an hour of rest. It was a small, neat room 
upon which it was evident she justly prided herself. In it 
there was an elaborate dresser and also a paneled wardrobe 
of gigantic proportions which must have been built in the 
room. The bed, with one cotton pillow and one straw one, 
was spread with fresh Hnen sheets and grandly adorned 
with a yellow counterpane covered with crochet lace. 
Above it hung a crucifix and upon the opposite wall a 
framed sampler, not at all unlike some I have seen em- 
bellishing the walls of cottages in New England. After a 
time, with strength reinforced by the hospitality of this 

90 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

bower, I went forth again to revisit the church and stroll 
through the quaint streets. 

While I loitered and gazed about I was filled, as so often 
before in Uke places, with an ardent curiosity, a longing to 
know what these silent house fronts, these broken walls, 
nay, the very paving stones, could tell me if they would but 
become articulate. It was not difficult to read that 
Paganico had a notable and exciting story to tell, so much 
at least was written plainly. I fancied I could hear the faint 
echo of trumpets blown from the towers, the noise of battle, 
the crash of falling stones when the gates burst inward, 
the enemy rushed through and swords were reddened with 
the blood of the helpless. Further than mere conjecture 
I could not go. I thought despondently, what record could 
I ever find of a forgotten village like this hidden among 
woods and hills? But just at that moment there dropped 
from the clouds a gentleman with a manuscript in his 
hand. He must have approached in that manner for it 
is certain he was not there a moment before and now he 
stood opposite me with a modest, hospitable air and asked 
if I was perhaps interested in Paganico and would like to 
know something of its history. 

Accepting this encounter as calmly as I could and realiz- 
ing that I was walking in fairyland, I assured him that he 
judged rightly. He then confided to me that having a 
bent for research he had compiled a little account of his 
native town, and as he showed it to me I noted that the 
carefully written pages were fortified with learned cita- 
tions. He then offered to intrust the manuscript to me and 
furthermore, to allow me to carry it away and return it 
when I chose. He asked for no reward, no pledge, and 
treated his proffer as simply as though he were lending a 
printed book to an old friend. I tried to express my in- 
debtedness which he mildly deprecated and we talked a 
little of Paganico, its fortunes in the past and its tranquil- 

91 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

lity in the present. When we parted I walked on, rejoiced 
but bewildered, pondering upon the pleasant world I lived 
in and happily realizing that anything might happen in Italy. 

The above is a true story and if any carping reader 
refuses to believe in a direct descent from the clouds such as 
I have described, I can only say that to my dazzled vision 
the beginning of that interview was thus glorified. 

Distances in Paganico are short and in my further ex- 
plorations I very soon found myself at one of its bound- 
aries, looking forth from the crumbling gateway upon the 
placid river and the long shadows beyond, that were be- 
ginning to darken the steep ravines in the hills. Outside 
lay a pretty path leading along a space of the town wall 
which was here painted with lichens and lent its support to 
many succulent plants growing up against it with all the 
energy of spring in their vigorous shoots and tendrils. I 
had already begun to experience a vague sensation of hav- 
ing lived long in Paganico so it was without surprise that 
I perceived an acquaintance of the morning not far away. 
It was the woman I have already described as having been 
simultaneously engaged in such a variety of occupations. 
This time she had with her only the child of four and was 
busily gathering something from the bushes beside the 
path. I joined her and found she was filling a little basket 
with snails. There seemed to be an unlimited quantity 
and she plucked them from the leaves rapidly and rather 
daintily, laying hold of them by their little round shells. 
In the first moment I caught my breath at the thought of 
eating just this form of life, but then I reflected that, looked 
at impartially, these small white snails feeding upon green 
leaves might be considered far less unappetizing than a 
mass of crawling gray shrimps which we accept as desirable 
food and I resolved to be tolerant and hospitable to new 
ideas. 

Meantime my companion, sociably inclined, as earlier in 

92 



^^^^^^^H^^ 


1 

^ ^ mm 


\ 


^^^^^ 


i 




1 

h 


■»' rT -j 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

the day, suspended her work and looked ready for con- 
versation, so I approached the subject of the story which 
she had before hinted at and begged her to tell me more of 
that famous outlaw the Padrone of Paganico. She smiled 
at me and gave a little sigh. "Poor Baicche!" she said. 
"He was bad, Signora, but not so very bad. He was 
young and what happened crazed him." We sat down to- 
gether under an alder beside the river and she related his 
story which ran as follows : 

He began Hfe as a shoemaker in Siena where he un- 
happily fell in love with a young married woman. After a 
time they agreed to leave the city secretly and establish 
themselves far away where they were unknown. Baicche 
prepared everything accordingly, giving up his shop and 
selling his equipment. All was ready for flight and the 
hour of departure fixed. Baicche waited long at the meet- 
ing place. The night wore on, but his inamorata, fickle or 
faint-hearted, did not appear. Theifollowing day he with 
difficulty had speech with her. She met him coldly, she 
had changed her mind. He was confounded; he appealed, 
he implored, but to no purpose and at length rushed away 
baffled and desperate. His shop given up, his occupation 
broken, he could not face his old life and full of fury and 
bitterness took refuge in the woods where he nursed his in- 
jury till it turned to a passion of revenge. 

The woman who had failed him realized her danger and 
for a whole year kept within her house. Baicche was never 
too far away to know this and to keep his fierce watch. 
At last her caution relaxed, she ventured forth to the 
washing pool. A sudden gun shot, and she dropped dead 
beside the basin. Baicche was summoned to appear at 
court but defied the authorities and successfully con- 
cealed himself. In the neighborhood of Paganico among 
the hills and woods along the Ombrone he chose his field 
of operations and in time became known as the Padrone 

93 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of Paganico. He levied tribute as his predecessors in 
brigandage had done but on no such large scale; times had 
changed and he made merely a living. In those days farm 
agents still reserved a column in their bookkeeping for 
" Girelloni" of his kind, a recognized expense of estates, 
but the amounts they paid over were small. 

It is said that after some years Baicche decided to strike 
once for all for a large sum and then to renounce robbery, 
quit Italy, and begin life in a new country. He therefore 
made a heavy demand upon the agent of a rich proprietor 
but to his chagrin it was refused. Soon after upon a 
lonely road in the forest he met a man whom he took to 
be the padrone and challenged him. The man terrified and 
stammering tried to convince Baicche of the mistake and 
of his own identity but the bandit, disbelieving, shot and 
wounded him and then left him where he lay. The un- 
fortunate victim was picked up soon after and lingered 
some time between life and death, but finally recovered. 
A new suit was brought against Baicche, but as before he 
failed to appear. This time a more thorough search was 
made and in the end he was captured and tried. The 
woods of Paganico know him no more and the country 
people cannot tell whether he still languishes behind the 
walls of that huge prison which frowns from the heights 
of Volterra, but they whisper to one another that Baicche 
was wont to swear he would never remain alive in cap- 
tivity. 




94 




San Antimo. The Outside Staircase 



CHAPTER VI 



MONTALCINO 



RAVELING from Siena toward the 
southwest and passing through Buon- 
convento, a secondary road turns out 
of the highway and carries one west- 
ward toward Montalcino. Before or 
after ascending to it one should not 
fail to see the famous old monastery of 
San Antimo lying in a quiet hollow of 
the foothills, peacefully dreaming of the 
time when it was a mighty Benedictine foundation and 
greatly important in the life of the city above it. The feet 
of the faithful seldom tread the paths that lead to it now, 
silence has settled upon it, and yet no air of neglect pervades 
it. Pleasant fields lie about it with gnarled olives here and 
there, a group of hayricks stands not far away, and against 

95 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 



the apse flourishes a cypress whose dark, compact green is 
threaded by the delicate foHage of a deciduous tree beside 
it. The noble interior, of great height, unencumbered 
and full of light, is of travertine and "agated alabaster," 
warm and golden, and shows its French derivation. The 
ambulatory, with radiating chapels, is most interesting; 
so also are the details of roof, architrave, column, and 
capital. One column is inscribed with the date 1118; 
the decoration of a capital shows a design of fighting lions; 
another bears rams* heads, the joined horns giving the 
outline of festoons; in another grotesque animals sport 
under a lovely wreath of alabaster. 

On the exterior of the building one finds many arches, 
large and small, some walled up, some still free; opposite 
three small ones that open near the ground, with graceful 
colonnettes, is a well-head of unusual size and there is also 
a fine stone staircase. As it stands there, fair and sunlit 
against a green background, San Antimo is as beautiful a 
relic of the past as exists in Italy. 







^■!srl -*'■•■; r 7 






San Antimo 
96 




San Antimo. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Hardly a city of the high hills looks so seated in the 
clouds as Montalcino; there is a magnificence in the way 
it lies against the sky that is scarcely equalled by any 
other. Its profile is in sight long before the climb to it 
begins, and the very look of it explains the struggle of 
those who wished to control it. 

To ascend the height it crowns, you pass between tall 
poplars, cypresses, and ancient olives till, sweeping round 
to the south, you enter it as you should, directly under the 
walls of its fortress. From this summit it looks into three 
valleys, those of the Orcia, the Ombrone, and the Asso, 
and so commands one of the most beautiful and wide- 
spreading of all Tuscan prospects. Innumerable hills, 
vales, and streams are mapped below it and white ribbon- 
like roads wind among them, while above all lies Monte 
Amiata, which with its long, gracious slopes mantled with 
chestnuts broods above southern Tuscany. 

The principal street of Montalcino follows the crest of 
the hill, and one passes the small picture gallery in the 
Piazza Margherita and the extraordinarily tall, thin 
municipioy with its slim clock tower. There are churches 
to be visited and the monastery of San Francesco has 
some interesting frescoes and a charming Andrea della 
Robbia. From the ruined castle one may see the beautiful 
profile of the suppressed convent of the Osservanti, where 
there is an assumption by Girolamo di Benevento. 

There is little left of the mediaeval period of the town 
excepting a few towers much shortened; the architecture 
and art of the place, belonging to a later period, are mainly 
Sienese. It is a clean, breeze-swept city very pleasant 
to sojourn in, and it has an excellent inn, II Giglio, where 
you may be made comfortable for a long or a short stay 
and enjoy charming views from its little bedroom windows. 

In speaking of its early history Repetti remarks, 
"Many persons for the love of boasting a remote origin 

97 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

have related things concerning Montalcino that make 
the eyebrows to arch with amazement"; he recites 
heroic tales of Roman and Gallic battles and misty records 
of its early Christian occupation; but however legendary 
all this may be, we know that it had a Longobard period, 
and that in the Middle Ages it belonged to the neighboring 
abbey of San Antimo before the bad behavior of the 
monks attached to that foundation caused a change of 
face, with the result that the Bishop of Montalcino ruled 
San Antimo instead. 

In spite of being at some distance from the great Via 
Francigena, the highway through Italy of conquerers 
and commerce, Montalcino never enjoyed for long an un- 
observed or tranquil existence; she was too conspicuously 
set, too admirably placed for fortification, and as time 
went on, not being strong enough for more than nominal 
independence, she was ardently desired by both the Tus- 
can rivals, Florence and Siena. To the latter she was 
naturally allied by position and was of great importance, 
for she commanded the Sienese territory of the Maremma; 
but Florence claimed her and persistently schemed to 
get possession of her. During the long wars between 
Florence and Siena that filled most of the thirteenth cen- 
tury, Montalcino frequently suffered, but, most of all, 
in I20I, when the two eternal enemies entered for once 
into an alliance. Florence had resolved to seize the 
brave little town of Semifonte; Siena coveted Montalcino, 
at this time trying to maintain her independence. A 
base agreement was entered into, that neither should 
interfere with the other until these purposes were carried 
out. Siena therefore laid siege to Montalcino; the people 
desperately defended themselves till arms and food were 
exhausted, but at last the Sienese with the aid of a 
troop of Florentines carried the place, after which they 
destroyed the fortifications. 

98 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Some verses written by a citizen-poet of the unhappy 
town have been preserved, and he writes of it thus : 

"With obdurate heart Siena has destroyed Montalcino, 
has laid low her walls, her gates, her towers, has burned 
her houses, and all is ruin"; yet, in continuing, the poet 
humbly praises the compassion of the victors in that they 
spared the lives of the inhabitants though they might so 
easily have put them all to the sword! Siena had tri- 
umphed, but a few years later there was a day when the 
Sienese themselves suffered terrible humiliation, for the 
Florentines came against them, the men of Siena rushed 
forth to defend their city and certain of their brave 
women went with them and fought beside them; it 
was of no avail; they were beaten back, the Florentines 
burst in and rushed through the streets killing as they 
went and when at night the battle was over they had 
carried away with them many beautiful Sienese women, 
whom they forced to become their mistresses; and Villani 
tells us in his chronicle that a Florentine knight had 
hung his shield on the very gate of Siena in token of 
victory. 

After this, Siena could no longer hold Montalcino, so 
the coveted town went into the hands of Florence. This 
was in 1233; in 1252 Siena tried to retake it but without 
success; three years later she had again to recognize 
the so-called independence of Montalcino, and even go 
through the absurd form of an affectionate reconciliation 
with Florence, one condition of which was that Montalcino 
should not be used by either party as a refuge for rebels. 
Of course, neither side had any intention of abiding by 
this treaty, and Montalcino continued to be the subject 
of bitterest discord, Florence as often as possible promot- 
ing hostility to Siena, and Siena struggling to make good 
her claim to the important town, attempts in which she 
was usually unsuccessful. 

99 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

These were dark days for Siena; the fortunes of the 
Ghibellines were at a low ebb, but the tide was near the 
turning. In two years Manfred appeared and with his 
swift series of victories in the south his Tuscan adherents 
were heartened. The Sienese sent to ask for his help 
and began to gain successes against the Florentines; in 
the summer of 1259, just before the great battle beside 
the Arbia, knowing that Florence had again succeeded in 
persuading Montalcino to take sides against them, they 
determined to attack it; and with an army strengthened 
by reinforcements sent by Manfred, they marched south- 
ward and laid siege to it. 

The Florentines, who had been making ready for war, 
hearing of this move and greatly fearing the capture of 
Montalcino, set forth to relieve it and punish the Sienese. 
Marching south by the valley of the Pesa, instead of pro- 
ceeding directly to Montalcino, they encamped among 
the barren hills along the River Arbia, and sent envoys 
to Siena bearing insolent messages. "Throw down your 
walls that we may enter where it pleases us," they scorn- 
fully demanded and they proceeded no farther toward Mon- 
talcino, but waited there beside the river that was so 
soon to run red with their blood. On the fourth of 
September, in this year of 1260, the Sienese came forth to 
meet them and utterly routed them in the memorable 
battle of Montaperti. 

The account of this battle belongs to the history of 
Siena and it has been too eloquently described to be retold 
here, but after the great and hardly hoped-for victory over 
the Florentines had taken place on that famous field, 
there was fear and trembling in Montalcino, for its citizens 
knew they had been the immediate cause of the conflict, 
and this Siena would not forgive, even in the hour of victory. 
They debated what course to pursue and it was decided 
to send messages owning their fault and begging for 

100 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

forgiveness. So a deputation, numbering four hundred, 
set forth and, with hearts heavy with apprehension, 
traveled to Siena. Led by their priests they entered the 
city in penitential robes, barefooted, with halters about 
their necks, and as they passed through the streets they 
chanted lugubriously: 

** Have mercy upon us for the love of God and of the 
Virgin Mary. We implore ye to pardon us and receive 
us as dead men!" 

When they reached the Campo the men of Siena at first 
gave them furious looks; many would have fallen upon 
them to beat and kick them, but these were restrained, 
and presently it was said to them: 

"Go down to the field of Montaperti where the valorous 
and intrepid men of Siena died and where stood the 
carroccio with our victorious standard, so that you may 
behold what desolation you have caused, and there do you 
remain till you are forgiven for the great wickedness you 
are guilty of." 

Then the men of Montalcino hung their heads and they 
left the city and went to the battlefield. There they 
looked upon a dreadful sight, for the ground was strewn 
with dead men and dead horses and the stench was so 
terrible it could hardly be borne; and they remained 
there two days and more, being commanded to bury the 
dead. At the end of that time they were permitted to 
return to Siena, and received gracious pardon from the 
potent and magnificient Commune of Siena and their 
citizenship was restored to them. Furthermore, they 
received permission to rebuild their city of Montalcino 
and to Hve there as before, and with this they were dis- 
missed that they might return to their homes; and they 
did so and built up their town again, only a little smaller 
than it was before. After this they were all true and 
faithful sons of the Commune of Siena. 

lOI 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

The defeat of the Florentines at the battle of Monta- 
perti had caused them to give up all claim to Montalcino. 
As the years went on the town became, as the old his- 
torian declares, warmly loyal to Siena, so that when, 
in 1555, that unhappy commune fell before the combined 
attack of the imperial forces and those of Cosimo dei 
Medici after a siege of merciless cruelty hardly exceeded 
in all history, it was the people of Montalcino who opened 
their arms to her and made their mountain top the last 
refuge of those who fled at the surrender of their beloved 
city, refusing to bow the neck to the detested Spanish yoke. 

But before this much was to happen. All through 
the sixteenth century there were wars and rumors of wars; 
when, in 1526, Italy became the battleground of the 
pontiff and the emperor, and Siena was actually attacked 
by the papal army allied with Florence, she could but 
appeal for help to the imperial power. The response was 
prompt; in 1536 Charles V, making a ceremonial entry 
into the city, was received with wild enthusiasm. 

He lost no time in distributing places of trust to his 
Spaniards, and he exhorted the Sienese to cease their 
internal disagreements and trust to his direction of their 
affairs; but since Siena continued as turbulent and dis- 
orderly as she had always been, he presently decided to 
build a fortress by means of which the contending parties 
could be better controlled. The place for it was chosen 
where the pleasant gardens of the Lizza now are. 

Huge and threatening it began to loom, and the alarmed 
Sienese protested, but the famous Mendoza, who was in 
command under the emperor at that time, went forward 
steadily with the work, tearing down the ancient towers 
of the city to serve as material for the new fortress. "If 
the towers will not serve pull down the palaces," said the 
emperor. This was too much; the Sienese broke out in 
open rebellion, they renounced their allegiance to the 

102 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

emperor, and called upon the King of France for assist- 
ance. Throughout the contado the spirit of resistance 
was rife, and in July, 1552, an army of Sienese exiles ap- 
peared before the walls to lend their help, and it was 
known that French reinforcements were not far away. 
The insurrection burst into flame, the gates were thrown 
open to the arriving patriots, and the Spanish garrison 
retreated to the new stronghold under showers of stones 
flung by the women. There it remained during the 
negotiations which followed; these were short, and when 
the mighty portal of the fortress swung open, that the 
imperial soldiers might come forth and march out of the 
city, all Siena was gathered there to look on. It is said 
that before the end of the retreating column was out of 
sight a mighty shout went up from the Sienese, and, as 
the Spaniards turned at the sound, they saw the people, 
with one accord, rush toward the hated building to destroy 
it; men, women, and children fell with fury upon it, they 
beat and tore at the stones, and the great structure seemed 
to quake and crumble under their hands. In a few days 
the work of many a long month was demolished. 

This was in August, 1552. A great weight was lifted 
from the spirits of all in Siena, enemies embraced, old 
quarrels were forgotten; they spent the pleasant autumn 
in jubilation and amusement; banqueting, dancing, hunt- 
ing, went on week after week, while they forgot the 
warning that the defeated imperial general had pro- 
nounced as he left the gate of the city, "Have a care, 
you have oflFended too great a man," words listened to 
with a smile but remembered afterward. When the new 
year came, Charles V had sent his army to punish them; 
his implacable general, Don Garzia di Toledo, coming 
up from the south, was laying waste the contado and be- 
sieging their valued Montalcino, while the town was hold- 
ing out bravely. 

103 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Don Garzia dragged his six little cannon up to an emi- 
nence opposite the roccay planted them firmly there, and 
began to batter the walls. For the whole of a day the 
town was subjected to a terrific bombardment, but at 
night the only casualty was a scratch on the arm of 
Giordano their governor, caused by a splinter of rock. 
The enemy also attempted to mine under the walls, but 
fortune favored those within, for when, after great labor, 
the besiegers had unsettled the comer of a tower it fell 
outward and killed a number of the assailants while, 
thereafter, countermines met any renewed attempt. More 
than once there were efforts to corrupt the garrison and 
one such incident is thus described. 

While with all vigilance the walls of Montalcino were 
being watched, a plot was discovered that came near to 
succeeding, and trtily it was frustrated more by divine 
Providence than by the aid of man. There was in the 
garrison a certain sergeant, whose brother served in the 
besieging army outside. This brother, directed by his 
commander, secretly made known to the sergeant that if 
he would open a gate in the outer wall to the enemy he 
would receive such a reward as would enrich him for his 
life. The sergeant, being a traitor at heart, agreed to this, 
and on the first night that it was his turn to keep guard 
at the gate nearest the roccay he took an impression in 
wax of the key and sent the same to the imperial com- 
mander who had it carried by a trusty messenger to Mon- 
tepulciano where a counterfeit key was made from it. 
Now, during this time, a most crafty artilleryman made 
his way into the town and was taken before Signor Gior- 
dano who questioned him as to whence he came. The 
man said he had deserted from the enemy camp, where 
he had been harshly treated and nearly starved and 
he begged to be employed within the city. Giordano was 
suspicious of his honesty and so told him. The artillery- 

104 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

man, swearing he was loyal, urged that he might be put to 
the proof. He was taken to the rocca and told to fire 
upon the besiegers which he did several times and with 
such good aim that he killed certain of the assailants at 
each shot! The governor now began to have faith in 
him and seeing that he was skilful in his work, appointed 
him to a post in the fortress, for which he declared himself 
most grateful. The man's secret instructions were that 
when those outside had entered the gate and he heard 
shouts of ** Impero ! Impero!" he was to spike all the 
cannon in the rocca. 

Meanwhile the sergeant had orders that on the next 
night his turn came to serve at the gate he should place 
a small light in a crevice on the outside of the wall where 
it could be seen by the enemy but not by any one within. 
So, when that night arrived, he went to the gate with his 
twenty soldiers, taking with him also his servant, the 
only man knowing to the plot. After about an hour, 
he sent away the soldiers, saying they might go and 
rest for a time, for he well knew they were heavy with 
sleep and he would willingly keep the watch three or four 
hours in their place. As soon as they had departed, he 
set his servant to act as sentinel and himself placed the 
signal light on the outer wall. And now it was that omnipo- 
tent God inspired the guard whose duty it was to make 
the round of the walls on this particular night to start 
forth upward of three hours earlier than was his wont. 
He came to the gate soon after the light had been set 
and found only the sergeant there and, marveling at this, 
demanded to know the reason why so important a post 
was being kept by one man alone. The sergeant began 
to explain that he had sent his soldiers away to rest, but 
the guard suspected treason, and, full of rage, came near 
to killing him. Sending instantly to the piazza for men, 
and having posted them at the gate, he hurried away to 

IDS 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

inform the governor. Giordano was found to be undress- 
ing to go to bed, but he quickly clothed and armed himself 
and the two made great speed back to the gate. 

During this time the sergeant had pulled down the 
signal and, assisted by his servant, had let himself down 
outside the wall by a rope and escaped. Thus when the 
governor arrived, the traitor had disappeared and his 
servant was in the act of pulling up the rope. Giordano 
fell upon him and threatening to have him executed upon 
the spot, the terrified man confessed the whole plot and 
gave information concerning the artilleryman also. 
While this was going on the artilleryman, all unaware, 
was waiting for the signal to spike the guns, but Giordano, 
appearing suddenly at the place, seized him before he 
could be warned and soon discovered the steel implements 
for spiking the guns sewed into the sleeves of his doublet. 

Afterward both these men, the sergeant's underling 
together with the artilleryman, were hanged from the 
very battlement over which the sergeant himself had 
been lowered the night before. 

At this point the reader may be inclined to doubt 
whether, as the devout chronicler opines, divine Providence 
ordained the close of this episode, since the unhappy ser- 
vant, having saved his master's life, is left to suffer the 
death so richly deserved by that arch-traitor. 




io6 




MoNTALCiNO. A Gateway 



CHAPTER VII 

MoNTALCINO II 




ONTALCINO continued to hold out 
stoutly but not without much suffering 
from hunger, even the women laboring 
side by side with the men; and once, 
these women hearing their governor 
was considering yielding up the town, 
went to him in a body and remon- 
strated declaring they would rather a 
thousand times be buried under the 
ruins of their own walls than surrender to the enemies 
of Siena. 

The siege stretched itself out till it had reached eighty 
days; then one morning the people, very hungry and 
weary, beheld a strange sight: Don Garzia's camp was in 
disorder, soldiers were shifting from place to place, beasts 
were being loaded, the very cannon were being moved. 

107 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

What had happened ? Could it be possible the siege was 
to be raised? They crowded to the walls with beating 
hearts and with wild speculation watched the astonishing 
spectacle. Soon it was seen to be true, the army was in 
motion, it was marching, it was headed down the moun- 
tain. Suddenly all the people went mad with joy, they 
shouted, they embraced each other, and then they ran to 
collect every musical instrument, every drum the town 
afforded; but this was not enough, any object that could 
contribute noise was added, housewives brought their 
brazen kettles, the children snatched basins and frying- 
pans and all flew again to the walls; never did the army 
of an emperor retreating from an humble town like Montal- 
cino receive a salute such as fell upon the ears of Don 
Garzia's departing soldiers. Every one blew or beat 
upon his instrument adding his voice in shouts and 
gibes, and I fancy that many an excellent kitchen utensil 
was rendered useless on that day. 

When the army was at a safe distance and no ruse could 
longer be suspected, the people flocked out to gather up 
what had been left behind, for, in the hurry of departure, 
much food and heaps of ammunition had been abandoned. 
Added to this, all the dwellers roundabout the mountain 
came running joyfully to bring bread, meat, and wine to 
the townspeople. It was a glorious day, and, that night, 
the Sienese saw the light of great bonfires in the direction 
of Montalcino and wondered. It was the signal of the 
retreat of the imperial army, and the freedom of the 
dauntless little town. Only later was it learned that the 
emperor had received news that the Turkish fleet was on 
its way to attack Naples and had sent to order Don 
Garzia instantly to raise the siege and march to defend 
the south. The Sienese also celebrated the release with 
processions to the duomo to give thanks and with noisy 
military demonstrations, but the respite was to be short, 

io8 




Montalcino. The Castle. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and sobered Siena, realizing it, appealed to France, 
for there was war between Henry II and the Emperor, 
Charles V, at this time. 

The French king, willing to keep a hand upon Italy, 
sent them as commander-in-chief a man who thirsted to 
go on this mission, Piero Strozzi, Florentine exile, and 
deadly enemy of Cosimo dei Medici, in whose prisons his 
father had died. Coming with his French soldiers he 
was joined by the Florentine exiles of Rome whose banner 
bore the motto liberta vo cercando ch'e si cara. 
Cosimo, furious at the choice of Strozzi, was roused to 
immediate action; allied with the emperor who con- 
tributed reinforcements, he sent troops under Marignano 
to march upon Siena and lay siege to it. By the desire of 
Strozzi, the King of France also despatched his brave 
Gascon Marshal, Blaise de Monluc, to be governor of the 
city. 

The details of this struggle together with the long and 
terrible siege, hardly equaled for horror and cruelty in all 
history, belong also to the annals of Siena, but upon Mon- 
luc, who at the fall of the unhappy city led that remnant 
of the people who refused to accept the hated Spanish 
domination out and away to Montalcino, we may dwell 
for a while. When commanded by his sovereign to pre- 
pare for the defence of Siena he writes, "The king advised 
me to leave behind me in Gascony a little of my native 
choler that I might the better accommodate myself to 
the Italians," and wisely and valiantly did he bear himself 
through that fearful year while battle and the oncoming of 
famine tried the souls of the defenders. 

Alas! disaster came almost at the beginning; the armies 
of the too-confident Strozzi and the wily Marignano met 
at Marciano and the battle resulted in the total defeat of 
Strozzi, who, wounded and almost alone, escaped to 
the refuge of Montalcino. Terrible was the shock when 

109 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

stricken and bleeding refugees brought the crushing news 
to Siena, but there was no thought of surrender; Monluc 
and the people were united and determined; with high 
hearts they prepared to resist to the end. 

With indomitable spirit the great ladies of Siena, head- 
ing many fearless women, took part in the defence of the 
city so that Monluc protests he has no words adequately 
to celebrate their courage. "Never," he writes, "O 
women of Siena, will I cease to immortalize your name, so 
long as the book of Monluc lives, for, of a truth, you are 
worthy of eternal praise if ever women were!" And 
though Monluc did not undervalue himself, perhaps even 
he scarcely hoped that his commentaries would be read 
for hundreds of years, nay, even come to be called "the 
soldier's Bible." Later he is said to have exclaimed when 
fighting at Rome that he would rather defend the walls of 
that city with the women of Siena than with Roman 
soldiers. Soon supplies grew scant and those highborn 
ladies who were wont to dress so proudly now cared noth- 
ing for their looks; as the siege advanced they no more 
wore rich robes, and their faces were as piteously pale as 
those of the poorest, for the rich and the humble suffered 
alike from dire hunger while they heroically denied them- 
selves and their children that the soldiers might have more 
food. 

As months passed and the suffering increased, it was 
Monluc who cheered the people and put heart into those 
in authority. With the beginning of the new year some 
of the leaders became despondent, and one night when 
Monluc lay ill in his house, word was sent him from one of 
the Spannocchi, fervid antagonist of such proposals, that 
Cornelio BentivogUo, who commanded the ItaUan portion 
of the garrison, together with the council, was considering 
capitulation. The fiery soldier rose from his bed; he 
recounts how he prepared to go to the assembly and throw 

no 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

the weight of his presence and his urgency against surren- 
der. He had been ill for many days and he decided that 
the pallor of his visage became not this occasion, so taking 
some red wine he dipped his hands in it and rubbing his 
face vigorously he gave it the tint of health. " I looked 
in the mirror and laughed," he says. "It seemed to me 
that God had given me another countenance! I felt 
again like a lover in Piedmont." He dressed himself 
carefully in a costume of gray velvet embroidered with 
silver and a hat of the same work with superb plumes. 
This he describes at great length adding that it was rich 
and well cut, " for at the time I had it made I was in love. 
I was wearing gray and white in honor of a lady to whom 
I paid court when I had the leisure, for in camp having 
much time on our hands we naturally occupied ourselves 
with the ladies." It was the first of January and a freez- 
ing night so that it was necessary to be well wrapped. 
"I was enveloped in furs and so wasted was I that all 
thought me near death. 'What shall we do if our Govern- 
or dies?* said the women. *We are lost, for all our hope, 
after God, is in him. It is not possible that he can be 
cured ! ' and I verily believe the prayers of those good ladies 
helped in my recovery." 

Joined by the military officers he crossed the city and 
arrived at the Palazzo Pubblico. "When I entered, my 
hat in my hand, I looked about smiling at one and an- 
other; all marveled to see me thus." He listened to their 
discussion, they were inclining to surrender, he opposed 
it with ardor and in conclusion, turning to the captains of 
the garrison, he exclaimed, "Gentlemen, a brave man can 
die but once. Let us put on courage, for where confidence 
and valor are shown by the chief the army is inspired 
with them also. Let us then die sword in hand, aiding 
these poor Sienese to defend their liberty, and let each 
one of us answer for his own soldiers. At once every 

III 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

one raised his hand aloft and cried out each in his own 
language, *Yes, yes, we swear to!' Then the captain 
of the people and all the council rose up and thanked me 
and turned to the captains and thanked them also." 

So for another four months they painfully held out, but 
alas! in the end there was but the choice of yielding, or 
dying by famine. Supplies were consumed, the bodies 
of dogs, cats, and even rats had their market value as 
long as they lasted, and when hardly a mouthful remained 
within the walls the Sienese perforce made terms with their 
enemies. Spannocchi still fought against this: "Rather 
would I," he cried out passionately, "burn down our city, 
yes, the very churches, and let the enemy come in to find 
their triumph had brought them only a heap of stones 
and ashes." 

The terms of capitulation were honorable and included 
consent that all those who chose to leave the city when it 
was given up should not be prevented, also that the sol- 
diers of the garrison were to march out with all honor, 
and so it was that on the day the conquerors were to enter 
by the Camollia gate there gathered in the piazza those 
who were determined to leave Siena and preserve their 
independence by going to Montalcino. Among these 
were "many of the most glorious and illustrious of the 
Sienese" as well as those of lesser note, to the number of 
several hundred. Monluc gives a touching account of 
this hour. "I was filled with pity," he writes, "both for 
those who went forth and for those who stayed behind. 
Never in all my life have I beheld a departure so heart- 
rending. Even our soldiers, who themselves had endured 
so much, mourned that they had not the power to save 
the freedom of this company. As for myself, I could not 
keep back my tears at sight of the suffering of a people so 
impassioned in defending their liberty." 

Before they departed Marignano addressed them and 

112 




A Farm House near Montakino. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

promised indulgence and consideration if they would re- 
main, but no one faltered in his resolution against it. The 
soldiers began to form for the vanguard; they, too, had 
suffered, "their very clothes were pawned and they were 
without money to retrieve them. The Gascons were 
wasted with starvation." Cornelio Bentivoglio, com- 
mander of the Italian troops, led them, lance in hand, 
preceded by a page carrying his white-plumed helmet. 
Between files of the imperial troops who lined the streets, 
the French and Italian soldiers marched forth, carrying 
the seal of the city, with drums beating and colors flying; 
Spannocchi rode beside Monluc, who, pale, lined, his skin 
parched with fever, yet held his head high and wore his 
richest costume. There followed the sorrowing but stead- 
fast little company of citizens, ruined in all but faith and 
courage. They passed southward out of the Porta Ro- 
mana and weak and famished as they were, began their 
journey toward Montalcino. 

Monluc describes how on this occasion he resolutely 
maintained a cheerful bearing that he might put heart 
into the company, and indeed these exiles had sore need 
of support and encouragement. Monluc had begged the 
victors that in pity for the old women and small children a 
certain number of mules might be lent to transport them, 
but for the most part the travelers walked, bearing in 
their hands the few objects they were able to carry. "As 
for our baggage," says Monluc, "it was so little that it 
counted for nothing." Once beyond the walls of the city 
they looked upon a ravaged wilderness, the verdant slopes, 
the pleasant farms and houses were gone, the bare ground 
lay stripped of every green blade. Ploughs rusted in the 
abandoned furrows and the trees bore dreadful fruit, the 
decaying bodies of those suspended from their branches. 
This last betokened the penalty for loyalty that had been 
exacted by the besiegers. Sienese farmers who attempted 

"3 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

to carry food to their starving compatriots within the 
walls were, if captured, promptly hanged on the nearest 
tree. Scant was the supply of food the wayfarers had 
been able to bring with them, and enfeebled as they were 
by long suffering, no less than fifty died by the wayside 
on this first day. In their extremity, Monluc says, "Of 
the horses I had I caused one to be killed for food. He was 
worth two hundred crowns, though to be sure he was by 
this time very thin. I took oil from church lamps and 
mixed with wild malva and nettles I had the flesh cooked 
and distributed to the people that every one should have a 
share." 

So they slowly and painfully progressed, hardly able to 
walk and taking many days to the few miles between 
Siena and Montalcino. At Buonconvento the escort left 
them and Monluc and Strozzi met. "We embraced, 
neither of us being able to speak a word, and I know not 
which of us two was the more stricken of heart at the 
remembrance of what was past." Almost fainting, the 
Sienese toiled up the steep road to their refuge. "And," 
says Monluc, "at the last, gaunt, famished, and white as 
the dead, we arrived at Montalcino." There they were 
welcomed and comforted and there undismayed they 
looked forward to a future full of difficulty and privation 
but lighted by the Hberty they had so suffered for. As 
for Monluc, on the following day the gallant gentleman 
wrote his report to his sovereign and with simple humility 
he concluded the account as follows, "And now, your 
majesty, there remains no more for me to say excepting 
that I beg you most humbly to be sure that had I known 
how to do better I should have done it." 

The Sienese lost no time in setting up their little re- 
public, modeled upon that of their mother city, they 
planted their banner upon the walls and strengthened 
their fortifications. Cosimo sent messengers to command 

114 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

their return and to threaten their most important officials 
that unless they appeared at Siena within three days they 
would be looked upon as rebels. To which these gentle- 
men responded with spirit that as they were occupied in 
exercising their offices in Montalcino which was now the 
real seat of the Sienese government, it did not concern 
them that they were considered rebels by those who had 
no authority over them and they thereupon had the 
messengers accompanied to the town gate and dismissed. 
The news they received from Siena was all sad. Cosimo 
had of course been false to the promises he had made 
and there was grief and deprivation among those who had 
chosen to remain behind, and many had been thrown into 
prison. Here in Montalcino "all dwelt together in in- 
credible harmony sharing everything in common for all 
alike were poor." They instituted laws, they coined their 
own money, and busily consolidated their federation of 
towns. To the east there were Castiglione d'Orcia and 
its seven neighboring castles, added to these, Monte Amia- 
ta and portions of the Valdichiana and the Maremma re- 
mained unconquered by Florence, and this territory com- 
prised their realm. 

As long as their powerful enemies were occupied with 
controversy and war among themselves they were safe, 
and this continued for a time, but the dream of indepen- 
dence without power, of a separate state adjoining that 
of Cosimo dei Medici was not to continue. With varying 
fortune they struggled to hold their territory together, 
but after something over a year, being sorely pressed, 
they wrote begging that Henry H would again send Mon- 
luc to their aid, and, with his consent, Monluc returned 
to them forthwith. He found Montalcino almost in a 
state of siege and soon relieved it after which he spent 
the autumn of 1556 in strengthening the youthful re- 
public as far as was possible and with each small success in 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

his campaigning he "greatly contented the minds of the 
people." But the fate of Tuscany and so of little Mon- 
talcino was being decided upon a larger stage. Hardly 
had the siege of Montalcino terminated when Charles V, 
old and depleted in strength, began to relax his hold upon 
his great possessions and they passed into the hands of 
his son Philip H who, beset by wars and owing great sums 
of money to Cosimo dei Medici, was obliged to make terms 
with him, and, early in 1557, reluctantly handed over to 
him all his rights in Siena and her contado. 

Meantime, the wise Monluc, while defending Montal- 
cino to the best of his ability, was careful to anger the 
Medici as little as possible, for he realized the probable 
end of the negotiations. When at last he heard that the 
bargain had been struck, he resolved to allow himself one 
final exploit — one last victory if possible over the enemies 
of Montalcino and of France. This adventure was to be 
the retaking of Pienza, and for this there was ample provo- 
cation. He had left it as well guarded as he could, but 
hearing that Don Alvaro de Sande was on the way to 
attack it he sent a company to intercept his advance. 
This company failed of its purpose so that Don Alvaro, 
having established himself in the town, remained there for 
three days and then left a garrison behind to hold the 
place and guard those of Monluc's men that he had taken, 
whom to the number of sixty he had imprisoned in the 
palazzo. He had then despatched messengers offering an 
exchange of prisoners (for Monluc was holding certain of 
the Spanish, earlier captured), and had scornfully added, 
"It shall never be said I gave up more than one French 
soldier without getting three Spanish, and, by my beard, 
I will have mine and they shall not get theirs." "At 
this," says Monluc, "I was hot with anger for I knew 
how he was starving my men while his were being well 
treated by me, and in this temper I resolved to have 

116 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Pienza." He then describes how he made his plans and 
assembled his men. Being familiar with the place he 
ordained that there should be three assaulting parties at 
three given points, and that all should be on the spot and 
prepared to attack two hours before dayHght; he himself 
with his detachment was to break through the wall at a 
spot where he knew it to be weak. 

On the night agreed upon he approached Pienza with 
the greatest caution and waited at some distance from it 
till he should have a signal from the other parties. A full 
hour passed without his receiving any and seeing that day- 
light was near to break he sent two men forward to steal 
within twenty paces of the bastion and reconnoitre. 
There was no more sound from the town than as though 
it were empty, only a little dog barked. "But," says 
Monluc, "afterward I heard they knew I was there yet 
they waited thus and kept silence. I decided to delay 
no longer, but since I was on the spot, to try my fortune. 
We took up our ladders and marched straight to the bas- 
tion, and as soon as we reached it we received a great 
discharge of arrows, but not for that did we fall back but 
put up our ladders against the wall. I had given orders 
that the commissary, the pay-master, and such (for these 
people always have money) should be mounted on good 
horses and have a great display of arms, as is always my 
custom, so as to make a show and deceive the enemy. 
To M. Mallassise I had given a Turkish horse that if I 
had to-day I would not take five hundred crowns for. He 
made me an ill return for this politeness for afterward he 
got me into bad grace with the Duke of Guise. However, 
God give me patience, I had a clear conscience. But now 
to return to my mounted commissary, pay-master, and the 
rest. To be sure, they were better fitted to terrify than 
to do any real harm, but they served to make the people 
inside fly from one place to another, and I ordered them 

117 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

to gallop rapidly round and round outside the walls to di- 
vert the attention of the enemy. 

"We tried again with might and main to mount the 
walls but three times were we driven back and many of 
our ladders broken. I must tell here of our second at- 
tacking party." [This group had the unpleasant task 
of crawHng under the first of two low walls by way of a 
sewer opening.] "Captain Faustin and all of his twenty 
men thus entered, creeping through one after another, 
but when they put up their ladder against the second wall 
so many sprang upon it at once that they broke it in 
pieces. How often do plans fail through such inconsider- 
ate ardors! They tried to mend it but could not and were 
forced to creep out again through the same opening. 
The captain came to tell me of his ill fortune and at the 
same time there was bad news from the third attacking 
party, and now the sun was coming up and all of us re- 
pulsed. I was near desperate, I sprang from my horse 
and called my captains round me, and I vehemently ad- 
dressed them, crying out, *I am here to take this town or 
burst! Follow me and I will show you the road to honor!' 
Then I rushed forward, my sword in my hand. My twelve 
Swiss guards followed me and so then did all the rest; the 
enemy showered us with stones and some of my men were 
sore wounded and two of them killed. 

"My Swiss now did good work against the wall with 
their halberds. I had my sword in my left hand and my 
dagger in my right, and with this I hacked and tore at the 
wall till soon we had made a gap, then I thrust in both arms 
and the wall being but the thickness of one brick and with- 
out mortar, all that portion above the ladder came falling 
and covering me so that my Captain of the Guard had 
need to drag me out from under it. The others fell to 
afresh with their halberds and soon a breach was made 
through which a man could pass. I ordered the first one 

ii8 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of my Swiss to discharge his arquebus through the hole 
and as he did so I gave him a push which made him take 
a leap he did not expect. Thus did I with those that 
came after, crying out, 'Jump! and I will follow you,* 
and so I kept on till at last I sprang down myself and 
began to shout 'Forward! Forward! We are within!* 
Many followed me and now I saw some of my own men 
who had entered at another place and this gave me great 

joy- 

Monluc's men then rushed through the streets to the 
palazzo where their own imprisoned soldiers were held, 
bound together two by two. They shouted loudly and 
when the prisoners heard it hope made them strong, and 
helping each other they burst their bonds apart and in fury 
fell upon their Spanish guards and with stones and with 
their own arms killed many of them. Then the fighting 
waged hotter and more desperate as, ringed about by the 
high walls of that tiny town, they crowded and struggled. 
Everywhere was dreadful confusion, cries, shrieks, and 
curses filled the air, and there was, alas! much wanton 
slaughter till, at last, there came an end and Monluc's 
men were victorious. "And thus," he says, "was 
the town of Pienza taken, on the night of Saint Peter, the 
which made so great a noise throughout Italy, and if God 
had only permitted that those men sent against us that 
morning from Montepulciano had started an hour earlier, 
we could easily have overcome them and cut them to 
pieces." 

On the day following Monluc departed from Pienza, 
leaving a sufficient force to protect it. "At noon I 
mounted my horse to return to Montalcino. The officers 
brought upward of a hundred work horses and some 
mules they had captured, praying me to take what I 
desired, and one of my captains begged me to accept a 
Neapolitan charger, the best and handsomest horse in 

119 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Italy. Of all those offered me I accepted only this one. 
Afterward M. de Guise asked me for it and I gave it to 
him. 

"At Montalcino I made my entry with but half of the 
three companies I had taken away with me. Behind 
these I caused the prisoners of rank to march, together 
with a few common soldiers we had taken, and after the 
prisoners I myself came and all my captains with their 
flags waving, and then the gentlemen of my suite carrying 
the standards of Pienza we had won. Believe me, not a 
man or woman in the town remained indoors, for all came 
out into the streets to see me enter." 

It was thus that on the thirtieth day of June Monluc 
solemnly planted the standards of Pienza in the little 
piazza of Montalcino as a memorial, and it is noted that 
the same day seven gold crowns were paid to each of the 
worthy drummers and fifers. Perhaps the people com- 
forted themselves a little with the recollection of this 
triumph during the oncoming of that sad time when they 
knew there was no more hope of their continuance as a 
separate government. In a few months France recalled 
her soldiers and defenceless as they were there was nothing 
for them but to submit to Cosimo. The shadowy little 
commonwealth had existed but for four years, then there 
came the day when their beloved flag was pulled down, a 
scene in the Communal Palace when the last mould of 
their coin was broken, and with tears their magistrate 
signed the transfer of his authority and gave up the keys 
of the city. The freedom they had cherished and bled 
for was buried. Cosimo dismantled the fortress and 
fastened his bulky coat of arms over the gateway of the 
castle where it still hangs. But the memory of its gallan- 
try and glory will live, its unconquerable spirit of inde- 
pendence, its aspiration for liberty. 



1 20 




Spedaletto 



CHAPTER VIII 

The Val d'Orcia — Radicofani — ^The Legend of 
Re Giannino 



HE valley of the RiverOrcia — ^which con- 
tained Castiglione d'Orcia and its seven 
neighboring castles, as well as many 
other fortified places — was the most im- 
portant part of the Httle republic of 
Montalcino, and the first to declare alle- 
giance to her. The heights of Monte- 
pulciano lie to the north of it and those 
of Montalcino to the west, to the east 
rises the mountain ridge of Cetona where the river has its 
source, and to the south is the peak of Radicofani to- 
gether with the cone of Monte Amiata which nobly over- 
looks it all. But when we speak of the valley of the Orcia 
the region presents itself to the memory as less a valley 
than a network of hills and vales, a continuous series of 

121 



3 " 


^^r 






'^ 


■^s\ 








^^^m 


I 










1 


1 






.> 


■^'U 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




•V.,, ill"* ■• 



Castiglione d'Orcia 



little watersheds, contributing to the river as it makes 
its way toward the Ombrone, past wood and height and 
fertile farm land as well as wastes of desert-like creta. 
Once it was dotted with feudal strongholds, homes of the 
Ghibelline barons whose fierce independence held out till, 
during the thirteenth century, it was gradually broken 
by the Guelf spirit of the towns that by force or by guile 
overcame it. Many were the castles dismantled or de- 
stroyed at that time, but a few still exist to tell the story 
of the past. 

Eleven miles to the east of Montalcino, high above the 
River Orcia where it makes its way through the deep gorge 
it has cut in a spur of Monte Amiata, stand the remains 
of three of these castles. On the right bank is the small 
picturesque fortress of Ripa d'Orcia, on the left, Rocca 
d'Orcia (Rocca Tintinnano as it was earlier called), and 
half a mile from it the village of Castiglione d'Orcia with a 
castle of its own. Owners of these castles were the Aldo- 
brandeschi, most powerful of all the feudal lords of this 

122 




R6cca d'Orcia. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

region, and longest to hold out against the growing power 
of Siena. They possessed nearly all of southern Tuscany, 
a wild country at that time, difficult of access and sparsely 
inhabited; and robber barons as they were, they found 
themselves admirably placed in their eyries above the 
Orcia to command the great Via Francigena at this point 
and lawlessly exact what they pleased from those who 
traveled between Siena and Rome. Looking out over 
this part of Tuscany from the parapet of Castiglione, it 
is difficult to realize that much of it was virtually unin- 
habitable in the thirteenth century. Unbroken woods 
covered the slopes, while lakes and pools bristling with 
canebrakes obstructed the valleys between. From the 
summits above frowned the castles and against them nes- 
tled the villages, each with its bit of cultivation about it. 
Below lay the highroad, and it is easy to see how well it 
could be controlled by feudal tyrants like the Aldobran- 
deschi. 

When the oppression they exercised became unendurable 
Siena marched out against Castiglione and took it, but 
it was not a secure possession and long remained insub- 
ordinate. After the battle of Montaperti it harbored the 
Sienese rebels, and some years later held out against a 
siege of forty days by the Guelfic League. In 1300 there 
was prolonged war again between Siena and the Aldobran- 
deschi, and the former having finally attacked and re- 
duced Castiglione, the haughty counts decided to come 
to terms with the captors, and Siena obtained final 
possession of it when they agreed to make the place over 
to her for three thousand gold florins. Portions of the 
castle remain to-day and near by the houses of the village 
are clustered about two small churches, San Stefano and 
Santa Maria Maddalena, which have had the good fortune 
to retain their valuable old pictures, works of Lippo 
Memmi, Vecchietta, Lorenzetti, and Bartolo di Fredi. 

123 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

It is but a stone's throw from Castiglione across to the 
bold tower of Rocca d'Orcia, a still more spectacular ruin, 
spiked on the apex of a sharp little peak that rises from 
the ridge at this point. Both before and after the Counts 
of Tintinnano, feudatories of the Aldobrandeschi, ruled 
there the castle had a tempestuous history, but when the 
latter family was obliged to give up Castiglione the Rocca 
Tintinnano perforce went with it, and thereafter the two 
were united. In the middle of the fourteenth century 
they were in the hands of the Salimbeni, a family whose 
power had so grown as to threaten the sovereignty of 
Siena itself. A contest began which lasted for many 
years, only ending in 141 8 when Rocca d'Orcia was 
wrested from the Salimbeni by treason. Malavolti tells 
the soriy story of the corruption of the garrison of Rocca 
d'Orcia by Siena, the betrayal of Cocco SaHmbeni and 
how he had barely time to take refuge in the tower with 
his wife and a handful of followers, where they shut them- 
selves up and defended themselves while their other 
strongholds in the neighborhood were taken or surren- 
dered. At last they were forced to make terms, they came 
forth, "and Cocco Salimbeni with his wife and family 
together with much household goods and a good bit of 
money went away to Montepulciano and then to Florence, 
despoiled of all his castles." 

This was the last siege these castles were destined to 
suffer until Cosimo came, and the Orcia Valley was terribly 
fought over during all the unhappy time occupied in sub- 
duing the Sienese territory, so that to this day it shows /-n 
the scars of those cruel years. As the armies ranged fJ (j 
back and forth destruction became so complete that many ■^^'""^Z^ciL 
a remote village perished utterly and the very memory of > 

it was blotted out. The soldiers were wont to complain 
bitterly that there was no more booty worth collecting, 
and that to secure but a single cow they must travel for 




124 




-/.^-iJh 





Ripa d'Orcia. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

miles. For example, Pienza was fifteen times sacked, and 
at last Cosimo himself realized the danger that the whole 
contado might be depopulated, so lest he should find 
himself in the position of the conqueror of an uninhabited 
territory, he actually began to bribe the remnant of the 
fleeing population to return. When his general, Don 
Garzia, sent a force to take Castiglione d'Orcia they found 
the town abandoned and entered it. Pecci says, "With 
two or three shots of their cannon having scared the 
castellan, they took the rocco. Agostino and Girolamo 
Vescovo were inside, both equally mean of soul, and were 
made prisoners. Out of pure cowardice Agostino fell ill. 
. . . The flight of an arrow from Castiglione is Rocca 
Tintinnano, unassailable as if cut out of the living rock. 
In this was one of the Piccolomini who was so frightened 
by the fate of the two Vescovi that he yielded almost 
without defending himself." 

From Castiglione the road leads to another of the high 
castles that perch above the Orcia Valley, and follows 
the spine of the connecting ridge for some miles, with a 
great view on either side. I could see on the right hand 
Monte Leone resting like a cloud on the western horizon, 
nearer lay Campagnatico and Paganico and in front 
Monte Amiata. From it the mountains swept across to 
Radicofani and Cetona, while below, the many windings 
of the Orcia gleamed among its folding hills. The sunset 
sky was covered with a seamless curtain of pale gold. . A 
pure, cool wind blew across the grassy comb of the ridge 
as it stretched still and lonely before me, and thus lifted 
into an ampler air with vague distances below, one felt 
detached from earth as though moving through space 
with the ease of certain large birds, the slow motion of 
whose great wings propels them steadily but without 
haste. 

After a time there came in sight a village of humble 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

houses clinging to the base of a great pyramid of rock 
topped by a castle the very type of the feudal stronghold 
that Campiglia d'OrcIa was. The Visconti who were 
the lords of it appear to have been among the most merci- 
less tyrants of their kind, so that when, for their broken 
oaths to her, Siena came in 1234 and stormed their for- 
tress, so furious was the struggle that the Visconti men 
were flung over the battlements to the rocks below just as 
they themselves had been wont to fling large stones down 
upon their enemies, never minding if some of them fell 
upon the heads of the miserable villagers in the streets 
below. There had long been enmity between this place 
and Siena, so that the Sienese regarded the triumph as a 
glorious one and ordered the evil place destroyed, and car- 
ried away many of the women as prisoners to Siena. So 
great was the rejoicing when they arrived at home vic- 
torious that it overflowed in generosity to the unhappy 
ladies they had brought in their train, and the story is 
thus delightfully ended by an old Sienese chronicler: 

"The said Campiglia was sacked, destroyed, and 
burned, because the defenders thereof refused to surrender, 
and they came all of them to a bad end, save only the 
women, who were sent to Siena; and no injury was done 
to them. And many of them were widows, in that their 
husbands had been slain in the battle . . . so to 
those women, such of their husbands as had been made 
prisoners, were for pity's sake restored, because they had 
no means wherewith to pay a ransom. . . . And 
they were all led, bound with a rope, into our Duomo; 
and there, for the love of the Virgin Mary, who had given 
us so great a victory, they were released before the high 
altar." 

From Campiglia one drops to the highway and then by 
various turnings and lesser ascents and descents, ap- 
proaches the isolated peak of Radicofani> for however one 

126 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

steers one's course over the sea of plains, valleys, and hills 
beneath, it is always in sight, looking out upon all sides 
like the beacon that it is. 

On the drive toward it, a bit off from the highway, 
stands that beautiful castle of the plain, Spedaletto. Judg- 
ing by its thick walls, its towers, its command of the coun- 
try from every angle, it might well have defended itself 
in many an assault or held out against more than rigorous 
siege, yet it has done none of these things, for its history 
is of the most pacific. It belonged to the hospital of La 
Scala in Siena, housing immense stores of grain, oil, and 
wine that belonged to that rich institution, as well as 
serving as a refuge for the sick and the destitute of the 
neighborhood. It still answers to farm uses and is less 
ruinous than the other castles of the region. 

The sterile mountain tapers to a clifF-bound summit, 
admirable pedestal for its fortress with lodgment for the 
village below. The Longobards fortified Radicofani, prob- 
ably in the eighth century, and those barbarians must 
have rejoiced as they looked up at this eyrie, seeing how 
naturally prepared it was against attack. By the tenth 
century it was in the possession of the Monastery of San 
Salvatore, and in 1143 the abbot was confirmed in his 
rights by Pope Celestine II, who declared that it should be 
under the special protection of the Holy See, and that It 
should pay an annual tribute. 

The following year, the Sienese, who considered they 
had rights in a portion of Radicofani, decided to make 
their possession complete through taking the town by 
force; and in failing to do so did not endear themselves to 
the inhabitants by burning all that was destructible in the 
neighborhood of the place as they withdrew. Indeed, 
the hatred they brought upon themselves by their conduct 
in this retreat was a factor in their defeat when, soon after, 
they made a second attempt. The abbot now ceded the 

127 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

half of Radicofani to the Pope, so adding a third claimant 
which compHcated ownership still further, while in these 
centuries there was, of course, always the imperial author- 
ity to consider also. In 1154 Pope Adrian IV, who liked 
to have strong fortresses on the road between the seat 
of the Church and Ghibelline Siena, began to strengthen 
the walls of the town, adding fortified towers; and while 
this was going forward it became known that Frederic 
Barbarossa with a great army was on the way to Rome 
determined to have himself crowned emperor there. The 
Pope being a wise man was disinclined to trust altogether 
to what might come of the negotiations which he looked 
forward to (and that ended, as we know, in such discord), 
so he sent messengers to the Abbot of San Salvatore, and, 
the two agreeing, the construction of the defences was 
finished in great haste. Indeed, whatever protection 
walls and towers might afford, this castello certainly had 
need of, for standing as it did upon the boundary of the 
papal territory it was sure of being often the centre of 
conflict. On this occasion, however, though the fortifica- 
tions stood ready, matters between the Pope and the em- 
peror still lay in the balance, and Frederic Barbarossa, 
with his shining host, passed along the valley below and 
no one mounted to the gate of Radicofani. 

As time went on the Abbot of San Salvatore and his 
monks, dwelling on the opposite mountainside where 
they had the stronghold of Radicofani always in sight 
across the valley, felt the need of taking all possible means 
for making themselves secure in their hold upon it, and 
in 1 210 applied to the Emperor, Otto IV, for his favor and 
support, which was promptly granted; not to the pleasure 
of Rome or Siena, nor to the tranquillity of Radicofani 
herself, who suffered all through this century from the 
struggles of rival claimants. The petty encroachments of 
Siena and the ensuing quarrels created such resentment 

128 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

that after the great Ghibelline victory of MontapertI in 
1260 many noble Guelfs of Siena took refuge in Radicofani, 
who adopted their cause against their native city. 

Having arrived there, these guests, we are told, "lived 
quietly, taking only what they needed from the people,'* 
and we are tempted to speculate upon what these aristo- 
cratic families considered they "needed" and whether it 
was hard upon that humble part of the population that 
tilled the soil and produced with tireless labor the food to 
supply not only its own people in war and in peace, but, 
on occasion, the armies of the enemy, the captains of ad- 
venture, and the brigands with their followers. 

For more than one reason Siena disapproved of the 
absence of that group of her important citizens who had 
established themselves in Radicofani, and so sent a group 
of eloquent orators to reason with them. These gentlemen 
harangued them at great length, taking the highest pa- 
triotic grounds as argument for their submission and 
return. But it was of no avail; the nobles refused; they 
would remain where they were. Meantime, the oppressed 
townspeople made energetic complaint to Siena; what they 
suffered from these unwelcome guests was not to be borne, 
and Siena, resorting to force, sent an army against her re- 
bellious sons. 

About eight miles to the north of Radicofani lies the 
little circular valley where stands Abbadia Spineta; it is 
so small — a mere cup in the hills — ^that one can hardly 
imagine it contained room for a bloody battle, but it was 
here that the conflict took place in which Siena dealt 
punishment to her defiant sons, and a pitiful sight it was 
to see knights from the noblest houses in Siena lying 
stained with blood upon the ground, brought to death 
by the hands of those of their own city; and of such as 
were left alive many were taken to Siena as prisoners and 
made to pay a heavy ransom for their liberty. In order 

129 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

that the town should not again afford a refuge to her dis- 
affected citizens, Siena thought it prudent to dismantle 
the walls and this was therefore done, though it does not 
seem to have been accomplished so thoroughly as to pre- 
vent its being taken and held a few years later by the 
famous outlaw, Ghino di Tacco, whose story Boccaccio 
relates in the Decameron. When, after two or three 
years, he had been expelled, the disputes as to ownership 
continued and, in 1409, Ladislao, King of Naples, being 
at war with the Sienese, stormed and sacked it, and then, 
probably because it was too costly to keep, tossed it back 
for a price to Siena, in a ruined condition. 

It is not to be wondered at that, after this, the people of 
Radicofani decided to give themselves formally to Siena. 
The transfer being consented to by the Pope, in return 
for this voluntary submission Siena granted them a long 
list of privileges and immunities, these being deserved, it 
was allowed, by reason of the succession of injuries and 
sufferings they had endured during the many previous 
years. On their side the people agreed that each year 
in August they would send to the Cathedral of Siena a 
palio of scarlet of the value of twenty-five florins, and 
this with ceremony, in the charge of four messengers, for 
Siena loved brave festivities. So having cast in her lot 
with Siena, Radicofani remained faithful and received a 
measure of protection thereby, and when Pope Pius II, 
loving Siena as he did, released at her solicitation the 
last claims which the Papal States might advance, the 
gracious act was commemorated in the Palazzo Commu- 
nale, where the Pope, enthroned in the midst of his car- 
dinals, is represented as granting this concession to the 
kneeling podesta of Siena. 

The great fortezza of Radicofani was now ordered built 
with the help of Lombard masons, and the people, watch- 
ing the laying of its mighty stones, were comforted by the 

130 




Spedaletto. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

prospect of a greater security than they had yet enjoyed, 
Httle dreaming that a new destructive agency was even 
then coming into being before which in another century it 
would inevitably fall. About this time, too, it was decided 
to make a change in the highroad which then lay far down 
the mountain, following the low ground near the River 
Paglia. The gorge of this river often afforded shelter 
for outlaws and brigands, besides which it was with diffi- 
culty controlled when the mercenary companies, which 
then infested Tuscany, came that way. So a portion of 
the road was destroyed and a new one made and brought 
up under the walls of the town. By this the people of 
Radicofani gained another advantage for, whereas before 
many strangers and merchants had passed by without 
coming up to the town, and thus their patronage was 
lost, they now frequented it and passed the night there to 
the profit of the inhabitants. 

When in the course of the following century Siena fell 
and the little republic of Montalcino was set up, Radico- 
fani became a part of its territory and transferred a warm 
allegiance to the new government, but Cosimo, whose eye 
was upon it as a point too commanding to be allowed out- 
side his authority, having intercepted letters from which 
he gained the information that the place was ill supplied 
with food and ammunition, sent an expedition to take it 
under the command of the famous condottiere, Chiappino 
Vitelli. To the surprise of this general, Radicofani made 
a most spirited and brilliant resistance, a number of women 
taking part in the defence. A manuscript of the century 
describes it thus: 

"Nor would I keep silence concerning the intrepidity of 
the governor's wife, Monna Francesca, who, with her 
cousin Emilia, led more than two hundred women, who, 
fighting with arms and with stones, conducted them- 
selves with such manliness and with such greatness of 

131 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

heart that the soldiers were inspired thereby to acts of 
the utmost bravery." 

At last the forces of the assailants were assembled for a 
general attack, they attempted to mount the walls with 
scaling ladders so that those within were obliged to strain 
every nerve; but the assault was repulsed and the enemy 
amazed and piqued beyond measure was making vigorous 
preparations for another battle when Vitelli was ordered 
by Cosimo to desist, as complications had arisen which 
caused an abandonment of the siege for the time. Great 
was the relief of the people of Radicofani, but great also 
were their losses. Brave leaders were slain; their fallen 
soldiers encumbered the ground inside the walls, and 
piteous it was that among them lay, with pallid faces 
and blood-stained garments, certain of those gentle ladies 
who had made themselves warriors for the love of their 
city and led the women of Radicofani in that gallant 
defence. With rejoicing for victory and tears for the dead 
they were buried, and surely Radicofani has never ceased 
to remember and to honor them. 

The independence so ardently fought for lasted a little 
longer, but when after the victory of Chateau Cambresis, 
Montalcino, last refuge of the Wolf of Siena, was forced to 
submit to the Medici, Radicofani, perforce, did the same. 

One day in early November I sat in the window of the 
Albergo Dante looking out upon the crooked little piazza 
of Radicofani with its rock pavement and its steep descent 
from the fortress above. It had an aspect of severity, 
borne out by the appearance of its ancient Palazzo Pre- 
torio, which is now a prison and is stripped of all its ex- 
terior beauty excepting the coats of arms on its front. 
There is a fortunate law which prevents the removal of 
these, and even on private palaces they must not be dis- 
placed for one of a new owner. Presently I heard foot- 
steps and voices and then there appeared a number of 

132 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

women, walking two by two down from the little grave- 
yard higher up the mountain. They were tall, erect, and 
dark, with fine carriage, fit daughters of those uncon- 
querable women who defied the army of Cosimo dei 
Medici centuries ago, and I hoped those dauntless an- 
cestors had not been forgotten in their orisons, for it was 
All Souls' Day and I knew they had come from putting up 
petitions in the little chapel. One of them especially 
attracted my attention, so spirited and handsome was 
she, and there was something martial in the way she 
carried her head; the hat she wore was bound about with 
an orange-colored scarf and bore two peacock feathers 
upright. When they had passed on and the piazza was 
empty again I went out to visit the two della Robbias 
that Radicofani possesses. In San Pietro, the parish 
church, is a lovely white statue of Santa Caterina un- 
touched by color, and in Santa Agata an altarpiece, one 
of the most beautiful of all the della Robbias. A short 
climb then took me to the shattered fortress where there 
are but a few torn fragments of wall left standing; the 
final ruin of the structure was not due to war but to an 
explosion which took place when it was used as a powder 
magazine. 

Scattered over the ground hereabout lie rough masses of 
reddish lava, porous on the outside but singularly hard 
within. They occasioned much speculation in an earlier 
age and one author writes of them : 

"It is said these strange stones were first one great 
rock which was rent apart at the death of Christ as the 
Bible describes such rocks to have been, but there are 
not wanting those who declare they were thrown down by 
Jove to aid his son Hercules in his battles with the Ligur- 
ians, for indeed this place was called by the Romans 
Campus Herculeus. But the other explanation is much 
more probable." 

133 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

The view from this height is superb and in the clear 
autumn sunshine it was pleasant to linger there and look 
out over the incomparable prospect of hill, valley, and 
mountain, and as my eye wandered over so much of 
Tuscany spread out below me, I remembered that once 
Re Giannino might have seen it from the very spot I sat 
on, for his name is connected with Radicofani. I won- 
dered if as he gazed on the fair land he was leaving to try 
his hazardous fortune elsewhere, he felt a pang to think his 
eyes might never rest upon it again. Perhaps not, the 
vision before him was too dazzling. Over upon the clouds 
hovering above the western horizon he saw painted the 
kingdom and the power and the glory he thought awaited 
him and he saw no tragedy lying between. The high 
romance of his story stirred the imagination of the Middle 
Ages and now it has become a fairy tale told to children. 
Thus it runs: 

When, in 13 16, Louis X of France died at the age of 
twenty-six, leaving a young wife and a little daughter 
Jeanne, his brother Philip became regent, as the queen 
was expecting another child, and until it could be known 
whether she would bear a son the succession could not be 
established. 

Now Philip had an ambitious mother-in-law, the 
Countess of Bourgogne, a woman greedy of power, who 
ardently desired that the looked-for child might be a 
daughter, for in that case her son-in-law would become 
king and she herself might contrive to have a share in the 
government. Great was her disappointment, therefore, 
when five months later the queen gave birth to a boy. 
According to the custom of the time, the infant was given 
into the care of those barons of the realm highest in 
rank, one of whose duties it was to choose as nurse to the 
royal child the person best fitted for that office. Hearing 
that a young Parisian of noble family had just borne a 

134 




^ 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

child, and finding her position and circumstances suitable 
they entrusted the little prince to her. 

It was a sorrowful foster-mother who accepted this 
charge, for Maria de Charti was mourning for her young 
husband from whom she had been forcibly separated. 
This husband was a Sienese youth of the Tolomei family, 
by name Guccio di Baglione, who had come to Paris to 
look after the mercantile affairs of his uncle, and the 
brothers of Maria becoming friendly to him he spent 
much time at their palazzOy and frequently went hunting 
with them. It was not long before he fell in love with the 
beautiful daughter of the house, and without confiding in 
her parents or brothers they were secretly married, and 
thus lived until Maria's condition made it necessary for 
them to confess. A storm followed, neither parents nor 
brothers would tolerate an alliance so far beneath the rank 
of their family, for although Guccio belonged to one of the 
noble lines of Siena he had disqualified himself by being 
concerned with trade. His wife was shut up in a convent 
and he himself was driven from the house. His relatives 
being alarmed, sent for him lest, remaining in France, an 
attempt might be made upon his life. In the very month 
in which the young queen gave birth to her son one was 
born also to Maria, and thus when she had been viewed 
and approved by the French barons, her brothers, seeing 
future possibilities of advantage to themselves through 
the arrangement, had prevailed upon her to accept the 
care of the young king. 

It was now plain to the Countess of Bourgogne that im- 
mediate measures must be taken to destroy the infant 
who stood in the way of her advancement and she had 
already taken the precaution to have it noised about as 
soon as the child was born that he was so feeble and sickly 
it was impossible he should live more than a few days. 
This was a blow to the people and they clamored to see 

135 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

with their own eyes whether there was no hope for the 
young heir. Such was their insistence that the barons 
were constrained to consent though greatly dreading 
harm to the child, for, being without proof against the 
countess, they could not make the danger known. Con- 
ferring among themselves as to what protection was possi- 
ble, they decided to expose the child of Maria in the place 
of the young king, and so contrived that the substitution 
was made without suspicion on the part of the mother. 
Poor Maria, isolated in a convent and for the time without 
knowledge of affairs outside, was persuaded to be separated 
from her baby for a few hours by earnest assurances that 
it involved no possible danger. Great was the rejoicing 
of the populace when they were allowed to view the child 
and saw that he was of a fine healthy appearance; but 
carefully guarded as he was during that day, the wicked 
countess managed to have access to him for a moment and 
that very night he died. "Whether," says GigH, "she 
constricted his head or pierced him with a needle or gave 
him poison is not known." 

The rejoicings of the people were turned to sorrow, but 
the barons, while expressing their regret to the mother, 
privately congratulated one another that their charge was 
safe and the Lady Maria's profound grief was explained 
as due to the horror she felt at the death of her young 
sovereign. Inconsolable at the loss of her own baby as 
she was, poor Maria still tenderly cared for her foster- 
child, and lived only in the hope that her husband would 
find some way to reach her and to carry her with him to 
his own country. In fact Guccio, yearning to see his wife 
and child, did return, but the family of Maria kept so 
close a guard upon her that he could by no possible means 
communicate with her, even to inform her of his proximity, 
and at last was obliged to retire unsuccessful. Meantime 
the barons found themselves in an unhappy predicament; 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Philip had had himself proclaimed king, putting aside his 
niece Jeanne, and they dared not at once disclose the 
success of their plot and the existence of the rightful heir, 
so they postponed it, hoping for some turn of affairs that 
would bring a favorable moment, but the years went by 
and Philip's strength only increased and the opportunity 
never came. During this time Maria's only comfort lay 
in cherishing the young king as her own, and hoping against 
hope that she might be united to her husband. 

When the boy had reached the age of ten years, Guccio, 
who had now given up all hope of recovering his wife, 
determined to get possession of his son, and to that end 
began to negotiate with the brothers of Maria, who were 
quite ready to treat with him on that ground, as they 
welcomed the idea of ridding the family of a child who, 
they considered, was the evidence of a blot on the purity 
of their line. They therefore assisted the father, the child 
was abducted, and father and son disappeared to be seen 
in Paris no more, "and there were no complaints from 
any one other than the supposed mother," remarks the 
teller of the story, "for those barons who knew of the 
secret were by this time dead, having told only the Bishop 
of Paris who, for the like reason, kept silence." The un- 
happy Lady Maria now fades out of the story, but in 
dying she had revealed the sad secret to her confessor, 
given him documents and proofs, and adjured him to 
search for the child and give him knowledge of his royal 
birth. As for the little boy who had been carried home 
by the unsuspecting Guccio as his own son, he was called 
Giannino and grew to a sober manhood as a worthy mem- 
ber of the Tolomei family, and an honored citizen of Siena. 

During these years his strange history was being re- 
peated and so coming to the knowledge of a greater and 
greater number of people, for Maria's confessor though 
taking no steps to discover Giannino had confided it to a 

137 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

number of his clerical friends, who carried the tale to 
Rome where they spread it still farther. By the time 
Giannino was nearly thirty years of age the confessor, 
grown old and feeling his hour was near, began to have a 
troubled conscience in that he had been false to the con- 
fidence placed in him, so he gave the documents to his 
friend, Fra Antonio, begging him to find young Tolomei, 
give him the papers, and aid him as far as possible. Fra 
Antonio set out upon his journey but arrived at Porto 
Venere very ill and, being unable to proceed farther, he 
cast about in his mind as to whom he might appeal to, 
and decided to send the proofs to Cola di Rienzo and beg 
him to undertake the affair. 

Cola, "great of heart," accepted the obligation for he 
had already heard Giannino's story, and promptly moved 
in the matter. He soon identified Giannino and wrote to 
Siena, telling him to disguise himself and come at once 
to Rome. Giannino obeyed and was privately admitted 
to the presence of the great man, who gave him the docu- 
ments that had come into his possession, assured the 
amazed youth of his protection, and promised to 
treat with the Pope and the kings of Christendom in his 
behalf ordering him meantime to go home and remain dis- 
creet and silent till he should himself direct him what step 
next to take. 

The bewildered Re Giannino returned to Siena, his 
heart swelling, his brain whirling. The quiet past seemed 
a slumber and a dream, the dazzling future shone before 
him, his real life was about to begin, he stood upon the 
first step of a throne. For four days the wondrous vision 
lasted, on the fifth Cola di Rienzo lay dead, slain by a 
Roman mob. With that death the glowing future turned 
gray and chill before the eyes of Re Giannino, hope died 
in him, and when he was able to think he resolved to shut 
away in his own breast all that concerned the great secret, 

138 




c^ 



tA 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

with no one would he share the knowledge, set apart from 
all mankind he would commune only with himself. This 
heroic mood lasted for a while but presently he found it 
irresistible not to impart the story to a few friends in 
strict confidence. These repeated it as confidentially to 
others, suddenly all Siena was conscious of it, fairly buzzed 
with it, and Giannino's frightened attempts to deny it 
were in vain. He became a person of consequence, an 
income was decreed him, and a title of dignity. Three 
of his fellow citizens offered him aid in establishing his 
claim, but at this point the wealthy merchants of the city 
stepped in and opposed any such action, it would ruin their 
business, it would provoke the hostility of France and en- 
danger the very existence of the Sienese Republic. Every 
one now drew back, there were no more offers of assistance, 
but Giannino was thoroughly roused, he determined to go 
forth into the world alone and seek his fortune. 

Leaving Siena and carrying nothing with him more sub- 
stantial than good wishes, he journeyed to Venice and 
asked the advice of a reformed Jew by the name of Daniele. 
Daniele was v\rilling to lend money on his prospects, and 
Giannino went first to visit the King of Hungary, brother 
to the queen his mother. King Ludovico acknowledged 
him as his nephew, and having no gold to spare, gave him 
letters to all the princes of Italy, and with these he traveled 
far and wide, finally going to Avignon to ask for recogni- 
tion from the Pope. Innocent VI, who was pontiff at that 
time, seems to have encouraged him for at Avignon he 
gathered together an armed band with which to proceed 
to Paris and make good his claim to the throne. Every 
exile and malcontent in Avignon joined his standard, and 
fitted out with funds obtained from Daniele, he set forth 
at the head of his little band with high hopes, while as he 
marched French rebels and many of the disaffected joined 
him. He had a few brief successes, he felt sure of his final 

139 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

triumph, but the rabble he led was untrustworthy; he 
had advanced no farther than Provence when he was 
betrayed, taken prisoner, and handed over to the officers 
of the crown, not without suspicion that the very ecclesias- 
tical hand which had been extended to help him was a 
second time stretched forth to apprehend him. 

This time he escaped and endeavored to call his fol- 
lowers together again, but he was taken, put in irons, and 
carried back to Naples where he was placed in the hands 
of the unscrupulous Queen Joanna, who had long been 
eager to get possession of him at any cost. She hurried him 
to the Castel dell' Ovo and from the time the gates of that 
prison closed upon him no more is told of the unfortunate 
Re Giannino, excepting that in a short time he died, and 
whether his end was hastened by his enemies or whether, 
broken hearted, he pined away, is not surely known. 




140 




Pii;'l ^K'^.mfAfy'M'^^H?}! '» 



«s-<«i,vr 







--^^ 



To Santa Fiora 



CHAPTER IX 

San Salvatore — Piancastagnajo — ^The Legend 
THE Little Hebrew — Santa Fiora 



OF 



OOKING across from RadicofanI toward 
Abbadia San Salvatore, it is hard to de- 
tect it, peering out as it does from a cov- 
ert of chestnut woods on that grandly 
sweeping eastern slope of Monte Ami- 
ata; but a drive of an hour between the 
Orcia, on the north, and the Paglia, run- 
ning south to join the Tiber, brings one 
to its gate. The way lies by many a 
hill and vale, passing harsh tracts of creta, which alter- 
nate with farms, hedges, and groups of trees, and at last 
gradually climbing to those beautiful forests of chestnut 
and beech through which the road winds under a leafy 
canopy till it reaches the famous old Benedictine abbey 
and its dependent village. In its day it was one of the 

141 




I 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

most important foundations in central Italy, and when 
bishops and abbots were potent temporal rulers, its terri- 
tory extended from Chiusi to Grosseto and the sea, and 
south beyond the present boundary of Tuscany. To-day 
it still clings there in the beauty of its forest surrounding, 
a gray and hoary reminder of what it once was. Not that 
it is a solitary ruin; on the contrary, it is still populous, 
but the high authority that dwelt in the abbey has de- 
parted, an authority that was even then often questioned 
and struggled against in the humble town beside it that 
longed for communal independence. 

The fortunate preservation of its form and character 
show the distinctive features of the place still, the abbey 
and its village standing on opposite sides of a ravine, each 
walled and entered by a separate gate. It is not the most 
hospitable of places; ruffianly boys greeted us with yells 
and one or two threw stones. They were gently rebuked 
by their elders, but they capered away beyond reach and 
mocked them; evidently discipHne is lax in San Salvatore, 
The buildings of smoked and weather-worn stone have a 
sombre picturesqueness and overlook narrow, sunless 
streets where an air of poverty clings. It is hard to say 
such a thing of any Tuscan town, but San Salvatore is 
shamefully dirty and this in the face of comparative pros- 
perity and an abundant supply of water at frequent inter- 
vals in the streets. There are too many women idling in 
their grimy doorways which evidently lead to uncleanli- 
ness within; the streets run with liquid mud and garbage 
lies rotting in heaps while foul pools obstruct even the 
entrance to the church. For this state of things one seeks 
an explanation and finds it in the history of the place. 

When the power of the great abbey declined, the people 
suflFered more than usual distress, for the local resources 
were few, the soil of their perpendicular fields yielded a 
scant return, and solely upon the chestnuts of their forests 

142 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

they could not live; therefore a large proportion of the 
men were constrained to emigrate for part of the year to 
the Maremma to graze their flocks and work at harvesting, 
and from it they returned with slender gains and too often 
weakened by malarial infection. They were poorly nour- 
ished, their food for the most part consisting of chestnut 
polenta and sheep's milk cheese; and years of combined 
malnutrition and malaria produced an eff'ect almost racial. 
In this impoverished condition they were more than once 
visited by a plague of typhus, and to aggravate matters 
there was unhappily a great amount of drunkenness; so 
that when, some seventeen years ago, the quicksilver 
mines on the upper slope of the mountain were opened 
and employment offered for all, a population existed 
physically depleted, languid, and inert, little calculated 
to raise its standard of Uving with the added ease of good 
wages. Moreover, the industry in itself being a poisonous 
one, added its depressing effect, so that there is much ex- 
cuse for lack of initiative and thrift in San Salvatore. 

Recently the government sent an able investigator to 
San Salvatore and with his valuable report there is hope 
that every effort will be made to overcome so far as possi- 
ble the unhappy conditions existing there. 

From the very gate of San Salvatore one reenters the 
clean, cool chestnut forest that on the right hand climbs 
above the road and on the left drops steeply enough to 
leave gaps among the masses of foliage giving beautiful 
views of the valley below and the distant hills. Four 
miles of this charming progress bring one to the little 
walled town of Piancastagnajo with the towers of its castle 
mounting finely above its gateway. Very imposing it 
looks still and fit to defend a far larger place; indeed, 
though Piancastagnajo was small, remote, and forest- 
encircled, it led as uneasy a life as towns of greater size, 
and among its claimants the old names appear and reap- 

143 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Palazzo Borbone. Piancastagnajo 

pear. On entering, it is seen to be cleaner than San Salva- 
tore, yet not too clean; the inhabitants, though so near 
the mines, do not in general work in them and there are 
no evidences of important buildings — excepting perhaps 
that offered by one bricked-up Gothic window on the 
small piazza — till one comes to the other end of the town 
where stands the great Palazzo Borbone, with a noble 
staircase and a terrace commanding a great view of the 
Paglia Valley as far as the Roman campagna. It has a 
garden, too, all lapsed to wildness, but not wildness of the 
kind that adds charm rather than takes it away, for it is 
somewhat hard and bare, the skeleton of a once beautiful 
thing. All is silent there now and the lovely ladies and 
gallant cavaliers that once made the halls and shrubberies 
gay with color and laughter are gone, and the huge Roman 
palace looks alien to anything else in the village or indeed 
to the whole countryside, for building here belongs to the 
Middle Ages and has naught to do with anything so mod- 
ern as a seventeenth-century palazzo. 

With the nobles who lorded it in places such as these 

144 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

have departed also whatever wealth and display they 
flaunted; their palaces are empty or else turned into prisons 
or municipal buildings, and the humble people who earn 
their bread as tillers of the soil, shepherds, or in this locaHty 
and that of Santa Fiora, as miners, remain. Added to 
these there will be the priest, the doctor, perhaps a lawyer, 
and, sometimes, a proprietor who comes in summer with 
his family for their villeggiatura; but it is all very different 
from the seventeenth century as well as from the earlier 
time when these gray stone castles held the feudal lords 
who built them and who maintained their power in this 
region so long. 

I was taken through the ground floor of the Palazzo 
Borbone, seeing little but impressive emptiness, and thence 
to the ducal stables which are really worth while as show- 
ing what luxury and completeness required three hundred 
years ago, and which I advise no visitor to omit visiting. 
And for the rest, what interested me most about Pian- 
castagnajo was that it was the scene of a strange dramatic 
incident which took place there in the sixteenth century; 
that is, in the one preceding that in which Giovan Battista 
Borbone built his sumptuous palazzo and introduced a 
new element into the life of the place. It was recorded 
by one Ser Fabritio Selvi, residing in the town, and has 
lately been interestingly retold by Signor Barzellotti in 
his life of David Lazaretti of Arcidosso, and forms a 
concrete example of a type of superstition and intolerant 
religious fervor which belonged to that age. 

The central point of a village community such as that 
of Piancastagnajo was of course the church, and one day 
while mass was being celebrated there a sudden and 
startling interruption took place. A Httle Jewish girl of 
six followed by a crowd of boys and girls about her own 
age entered the church, and, unabashed, pressed up to the 
very steps of the altar. The officiating priest, astonished, 

145 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

paused and demanded the meaning of their unseemly be- 
havior, whereupon Ebreina — "the Httle Hebrew,'* as she 
came to be called — declared in a high childish treble that 
it was her desire to become a Christian. 

A perceptible thrill ran through the congregation, but 
the priest desired the children to keep silence till the ser- 
vice should be concluded. With lessened attention it 
proceeded, and as soon as it was over, the commissarioy 
highest authority in Piancastagnajo, was sent for and the 
child questioned before him. With steady persistence 
she held to her previous announcement, she wished to 
become a Christian. The village people listened to her 
avowal with an excitement far greater than that of the 
child herself, who in the midst of the amazement she had 
evoked remained singularly calm. In the end, the 
commissario took the child by the hand and followed by 
most of the population of the town, led her to the house 
of a responsible citizen in whose care he placed her. There 
she was jealously guarded and her father and mother 
denied access to her. In amazement and indignation, 
her parents and their Jewish friends demanded that she 
should be restored to them while her appointed guardian 
as steadily refused to give her up. 

An immense emotional excitement now took possession 
of the whole population, and for a month they lived in a 
passion of fanatic fervor almost impossible to realize at 
the present day. Here was a child suspended above the 
pit, a soul to be saved for eternity! They implored that 
she might be baptised without delay, and clamored against 
the commissario for his impious procrastination. Ebreina, 
meantime, repudiated her parents and refused food sent 
her by them on fast days, returning word that she could 
not eat meat upon a day when it was forbidden by the 
Church. 

A multitude of communications now traveled to Flor- 

146 




Piancastagnajo. The Fortress. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

ence, the Christians asking how to proceed with regard 
to the child and the Jews insisting that she must be given 
back. During the time that intervened before an answer 
could be received, the Church was filled with a beseeching 
multitude putting up impassioned prayers for the child 
whose salvation was hanging in the balance. At length a 
messenger arrived bringing orders from Florence, but 
to the horror and distress of the people, they were to the 
effect that Ebreina must be returned to her family. In 
defiance of this command, her guardian refused to release 
her. He was deaf to the indignant demands of her Jew- 
ish friends and he persisted even when threatened with a 
fine. 

From this moment a daily battle was waged. Eloquent 
letters were again and again sent to Florence and even to 
Rome. Ecclesiastics and laymen took part. Church 
dignitaries assembled in Piancastagnajo desiring to make 
the cause of Ebreina their own, and profoundly examined 
into her spiritual state. During these proceedings the 
people reached a state of hysteria. Peasants patrolled 
the country on horseback lest the Jews should succeed 
in capturing Ebreina and carry her off by stealth, and one 
day, at a rumor that this had been accomplished, a frantic 
woman ran shrieking the news through the village. With 
one accord women and boys surged to the piazza carrying 
sticks, stones, and knives, and an unknown man arriving 
at the moment, barely escaped with his life upon denying 
he was a Jew, crossing himself again and again and declar- 
ing himself baptised. Toward evening the men, heated 
with wine, took part in the demonstration, while the 
wretched Jews, in danger of their lives, had taken refuge 
in the synagogue. Riot and disorder reached such a 
pitch that control could hardly be kept and the Pope's 
vicar, who now appeared in Piancastagnajo, admonished 
the turbulent congregation that the Jews must not be 

147 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

injured. Documents continued to arrive ordering the 
child surrendered, while, on the other hand, the authorities 
hardly dared carry out such commands in the face of the 
fury of the people. From a distance a cardinal in high 
standing sent letters desiring that the child should be 
sent at once to him, and threatening in case of refusal to 
excommunicate the whole village. 

An unendurable blow now fell upon the population. 
The clerical decision was rendered that their Ebreina 
must not yet be baptised, the rite could not be performed 
before she had reached the age of twelve years. The 
people groaned and rebelled, they clamored for the direct 
interposition of heaven — a miracle, no less. The whole 
countryside prayed for it, women thronged the church 
and spent hours upon their knees, and yearning to have 
the child take part in their devotions, it was permitted 
that she should be taken from the house of her guardian 
and, surrounded by a bodyguard of numerous women, 
conveyed to church. Here, behind a grating above the 
altar, she assisted at the recitation of the rosary, gazed 
at from below by hundreds of devoted and imploring 
eyes. 

The chronicler here comments upon her exemplary 
behavior, her seemly bearing, and her devout mien, while 
the mind of the reader is dwelling upon the unhealthy in- 
fluence of these weeks of excitement and factitious im- 
portance upon the imagination of a child, and questioning 
the piety and modesty attributed to her by the credulous 
commentator. Finally it was announced by the authori- 
ties that the little girl was to be taken by her guardian 
to Siena, in the charge of an escort of soldiers and thence 
to Florence where she would be given to the Marchese dei 
Medici to be educated. Anxiety and distress filled the 
village, their Ebreina was to be taken away, her salvation 
uncompleted. The people remonstrated and implored, 

148 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

but were helpless. When the appointed day arrived, a 
solemn and spectacular departure was arranged. The 
population assembled in the piazza, all but the unhappy 
Jews who remained shut up in the synagogue or barri- 
caded in their dwellings, ignored by the authorities and 
suppressed by their townsmen. Officers of justice from 
beyond the town had been sent for, and were stationed 
among the crowd as a tacit check upon any attempt at 
abduction. The people knelt and with broken voices 
chanted the litany, the women sobbed and ejaculated, the 
men muttered threateningly. At last the little procession 
started, seven horsemen protecting Ebreina and her guar- 
dian. They moved slowly down the street of the village 
and passing out through the great castellated gateway 
were soon lost to view among the trunks of the chestnut 
forest beyond. 

Here, unhappily, some leaves from the ancient manu- 
script are missing. Conjecture alone may follow the 
fortunes of Ebreina among the Medici. The commenta- 
tor concludes that after an edifying declaration of faith 
she remained at the Court of Cosimo HI, and hazards a 
cynical guess that her parents were not dissatisfied. 

But, in Piancastagnajo, among the mighty chestnut 
trees of her mountain home, she was not forgotten. Long 
did sorrowing women grieve and pray and devoutly recite 
the rosary, vainly longing to be assured that the soul of 
the child they so yearned over was safe. 

With a tale so fantastic yet so pathetic in one's mind, it 
is easier to understand certain phases of the past and not 
to be unsympathetic toward survivals which show them- 
selves to-day nor to wonder that the slopes and cliffs of 
Monte Amiata, with their forests, their gorges, their up- 
land pastures and rocky heights, have a population whose 
character is interwoven with fancy, superstition, and 
legend. These people have their own customs and usages 

149 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

which vary somewhat in the different little communities, 
as they inhabit fortified village, ancient abbey, or harsh 
hamlet where the roofs of the rough stone cottages are 
loaded to the breaking point with stone to hold the tiles 
fast in winter storms. They love their region with the 
tenacity that mountains breed in those who live among 
them, and they are musical as all Italians are. Gino 
Galleti, who has so much that is poetical to tell us of 
Santa Fiora, toward which we journey from Piancastag- 
najo, says that one who is wise will be able to recognize 
in which locality of many their stornelli and rispetti 
have been composed, and certainly one can easily imagine 
that songs made in Santa Fiora or Arcidosso might differ 
greatly from those produced in San Salvatore on the 
other side of the mountain. San Salvatore left with 
me an impression of shadow while Santa Fiora, out- 
side the forest and full facing the southern sun, is full of 
light. 

As the road toward it rounds the last spur Santa Fiora 
comes into view, boldly planted upon a mass of rock 
projecting from this flank of Amiata and fronting the deep 
valley, where the river of the same name flows, beyond 
which rises an amphitheatre of high hills. The entrance 
to the town is by an arched passageway under the Cesarini 
Palace, and this opens upon a large oblong piazza, usually 
sunny and empty, surrounded by high buildings with 
severe flat fa9ades whose line at one point is broken by a 
pompous clock tower, the base of which projects itself far 
beyond the other structures while its top ostentatiously 
bristles with battlements and machicolations that were 
long out of date when it was built. But a second glance 
shows another tower in the background, of far greater 
bulk, grim, weather-beaten, unembellished, whose base is 
buried and almost unapproachable in the mass of the sur- 
rounding houses while it lifts its head aloft to remind us 

ISO 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of the days when it bore an important part in the warlike 
life of the place. At the root of it was the prison where 
Ghinozzo of Sassoforte suffered at the hands of one of 
the Counts of Santa Fiora, he of that branch of the Aldo- 
brandeschi family that Dante speaks of as the very type 
of feudal tyranny. Looking up at this dark tower the 
picture of those men with their fierce customs, their blood 
retaliations, their relentless warfare seems to take shape 
in one's mind and the story of Ghinozzo to become real 
and present. 

It was in the year 1329 that the Count of Santa Fiora 
was at war with Ghinozzo of Sassoforte and for this 
reason Ghinozzo entered the count's borders with a com- 
pany of horse to do him harm. The count went out to meet 
him and thereupon a battle took place. Now Ghinozzo 
had a horse of wonderful intelligence and prodigious 
strength and a great sight it was to see him mounted, for 
so perfect was the understanding between them the two 
then seemed to become one. Unfortunately in the battle 
just referred to, Ghinozzo was overcome and he and his 
charger were taken to Santa Fiora where he was 
thrown into prison. One day the count's lieutenant, being 
at the fortress where Ghinozzo was confined, saw the 
famous horse about which he had heard so much in the 
courtyard and desired to ride him. The steed allowed 
him to mount but refused to be guided by him, appear- 
ing either stupid or obstinate, nor would he obey even 
when spurred. Ghinozzo, well guarded, was present 
and after having looked on for a time he said, "If you 
like I will show you his paces and the way to manage 
him." 

"Do so," said the lieutenant, chagrined at his failure, 
and he dismounted and watched while Ghinozzo took his 
place. The powerful horse instantly became docility 
itself; at a touch of the bridle, at a word, he showed off all 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




PlANCASTAGNAJO. A GaTEWAT 

his accomplishments. Back and forth in the restricted 
space he trotted, galloped, or caracoled as his master 
directed, the lieutenant gazing the while in astonishment 
and admiration. 

Ghinozzo pined for freedom and as he felt again the 
splendid movement of his horse under him his muscles 
grew tense, his spirit rose, and a wild thought came to him : 
risking his life might he not snatch liberty? As he con- 
tinued to direct the horse, his eye eagerly searched out the 
point at which he might make the attempt. Then sud- 
denly he gave a ringing shout and the astounded guard 
saw the courageous animal launch himself into the air 
like a mighty bird. Over the parapet he disappeared, 
and as his hoofs rang upon the rocks below Ghinozzo's 
voice came back to them, "He who would take me let 
him come to Sassoforte!" The crestfallen soldiers gazed 
into one another's faces speechless; they had witnessed 

152 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

the impossible, their prisoner had outwitted them and es- 
caped before their very eyes. 

When the Count of Santa Fiora heard it he was filled 
with rage and disappointment and swore never to rest 
till Ghinozzo was retaken; so the war kept on more 
fiercely than before, till at last, between Magliano and 
Montiano, he again encountered his enemy. Ghinozzo 
fought gallantly, his noble horse performed wonders of 
daring and agility; but it was in vain, they were borne 
down by numbers and the whole company was forced to 
surrender. Then Ghinozzo, seeing the day was lost and 
that by no effort could he save his followers, once more 
trusted himself to his steed. Hewing his way through 
his foes, the invulnerable horse beating them down before 
him with his powerful hoofs, he gained the road and as 
before fled away like the wind. But this time the wrath 
of the Count of Santa Fiora was implacable; exasperated 
at this second failure, he called a few followers about him 
and set out in pursuit. Over hills, through forests, across 
torrents they followed, while Ghinozzo, like a will-o'-the- 
wisp, now appeared, now disappeared in the distance. 
At length the castle of Accesa came in sight, and Ghinozzo, 
thinking it a good asylum, took refuge there; the great 
gates clanged behind him and he was safe. The count, 
more enraged than ever, determined not to be altogether 
baulked again, and laid veritable siege to the place, posting 
men in all the passes leading to it, and this he did with 
such vigilance that no help could reach it nor could any one 
leave it. After some days Ghinozzo, convinced that he 
could neither send for succor nor hope to be successful in 
flight, surrendered and, this time under a strong escort, 
was returned to the dungeon of Santa Fiora. There he 
lay till all hope of deliverance left him, and the story ends 
briefly and sadly, "he died in prison, by reason of his little 
eating." Of what happened to his faithful horse history 

153 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

takes no note. Here before us stands the prison where 
he lay and pined for the sweet Ught of day that he was 
never to see again. Deprived of Hberty, Ufe was hateful 
to him and he chose to end it by the only means in his 
power. 

After a while the line of the Santa Fiora counts dwindled 
till out of that great family there was but one heir left, a 
girl; and so the contea passed through her marriage to the 
house of Sforza and thence to the Cesarini. To these 
famiUes are owing the palace and gardens we see to-day. 
To reach the latter we leave this part of the town and on 
our way come to the parish church where the beautiful 
della Robbias are that Santa Fiora is so proud of, and which 
it is a pleasure to be able to look at, still in the places 
they were made to fill; the flowery font, the Resurrection 
with its interesting details and the touching Ascension. 
One regrets that they are filmed with dust, and the church 
when I saw it was being cheerfully decorated for a festival 
without a thought of first cleaning it, which, it was 
only too evident, it had needed for many a day. From 
the church a series of steep descents leads to the river and 
to the sweet old garden which time has almost converted 
into a forest, dark and cool even at midday. There is a 
deep shady pool there, where the water in its course is 
detained for a while till it flows on, pours through openings 
in the garden wall, and drops to fill the humble laundry 
tanks outside where the women gather and where they 
often sing together as they work. With young and old, 
hereabout, music seems to be a natural mode of expression. 
They sing alone or together at home, they sing at the wells 
where they meet when they draw water, in the fields, on 
the roads, and especially on festa days. When, in 
autumn, the young girls go into the forest, turned golden 
after the frost, to gather the falling chestnuts, they still 
sing, sometimes happily, sometimes yearningly, touched 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

by the melancholy of that poignant season or perhaps by 
the thought of a lover gone far away to find work. 

For the young men there is not the time or the impulse 
to raise their voices much till the end of the week. On 
Saturday night they become vocal and by Sunday the 
spirits of the tired lads, many of whom work in the sulphur 
mines, have so revived that they wander in groups through 
the country singing as they go and perhaps at evening, 
safe in the darkness, one may go with a guitar to serenade 
his sweetheart. 

Decorum here, as in other places in Italy, seems to re- 
quire that the sexes shall take their pleasure separately, 
and groups of pretty girls in their holiday best walk apart, 
hardly exchanging greetings with the lads of their acquain- 
tance. It is not that they are not very conscious of one 
another, but meetings do not occur lightly, rather do 
they take place in some quiet nook where two go by mutual 
understanding. 

There is also "the singing of May*' {il cantar maggio), 
when a band of young girls, dressed in the beautiful old 
Sienese costume so rarely seen now, the red bodice, the 
striped petticoat, and the broad-brimmed straw hat 
decked with flowers, goes from one village to another carol- 
ing the joy of spring. There is also a kind of musical 
dialogue that girls and men sing together at that season 
as they go into the fields to weed the grain. The children, 
too, have their own plays that include music, and a pretty 
sight it is to see them go through their duets and choruses 
as they poise and warble like their own birds and as 
untiringly. 

One of their May festivals has bacchic features and ends 
in much draining of wine flasks which afterward are flung 
high in the air that they may break into a thousand frag- 
ments as they reach the ground. This is accompanied by 
great shouting of choruses to which the excited children 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

contribute their shrill voices and do likewise with their 
own small flasks, for not one must remain whole after this 
celebration. On the eve of San Giovanni there is a 
prettier custom when the enamored youth leaves at the 
door of the girl he loves a sheaf of fruit and flowers, con- 
cealed in which is a letter telling her that she is his true 
love and his choice forever. 

As for legends, many of them lurk among these heights, 
and one quaint one deals with the security of a certain 
portion of the highway between Santa Fiora and Bagnolo, 
about halfway toward Piancastagnajo, where on either 
side lie great masses of rock apparently torn from the 
mountain above and fallen here. Long, long ago a shep- 
herd passing that way with his little flock suddenly heard 
in the distance the howl of a hungry wolf. Struck with 
terror he sounded a note upon his pipe to collect his sheep, 
and the docile creatures followed to the trunk of a great 
chestnut tree and crowded about him there. The shep- 
herd, trembling, put up a fervent prayer and at the same 
moment he saw the ferocious beast break through the 
bushes not far away, and stand still for a moment looking 
to see where his prey was. He was famished, his open 
jaws were terrible, and his eyes flamed like fire. Hope died 
in the heart of the shepherd when suddenly he perceived 
a miracle: his prayer had been heard, the Madonna had 
interposed, the pitying tree bent its obedient branches to 
the ground and enclosed him, the leafy wall thus formed 
became impervious, and the defeated wolf was unable to 
penetrate it. With fearful howling at which the poor 
sheep shrank and trembled, he ranged round and round 
the tree, but after many attempts he slunk away dis- 
couraged, and the shepherd, first giving thanks upon his 
knees, went safely on his way with his flock. Near the 
place there is carved in a rock the figures of the Virgin 
and Child so that now travelers are always protected in 

IS6 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

that spot where, besides the weird shapes of the rocks 
which filled them with superstitious tremors at night, they 
were frequently startled by the flitting of the malign ignis 
fatuus to be explained away by no flippant mention of 
fireflies. 




PlANCASTAGNAJO 




157 




i©rt» 







■*t^- 



^If:-^::: 






Arcidosso from the South 



CHAPTER X 

Arcidosso — ^Triana 

HE distance to Arcidosso is not great, 
but because to us it was an unknown 
road, and also because of having left 
Santa Fiora when the sun was setting, it 
seemed long. The road follows the con- 
volutions of the mountain, through con- 
tinuous beautiful forest with openings 
now and then where there will be the 
house of a contadino and his little farm. 
We drew up frequently and asked our way, "How far is it to 
Arcidosso ? '* The Tuscan is both sympathetic and encour- 
aging. At the first inquiry a lad shouted "Pohol" (local 
pronunciation for poco)y that is to say, *'Oh, no distance 
at all, you are almost there." But so did the second in- 
quired of and the third who, however, shortened the 
word to **Po!" which resounded cheerfully out of the 
darkness. A fourth and fifth were similarly brief and 
reassuring, so that we seemed always to be just arriving 

158 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

instead of pursuing our indefinite way; but this was of 
little consequence in comparison with the friendly and 
benevolent spirit that supported us. 

At last we saw the lights of Arcidosso, and, descending a 
little and crossing a bridge, we entered the main street 
and proceeded till we reached an inn, the Albergo Con- 
terio. Here we alighted at an austere doorway within 
which was a vestibule, empty and freshly whitewashed, 
showing a stone staircase leading upward. There was a 
bell and we rang it; it reverberated loudly from above but 
that was all. We rang again and as it was still unanswered 
we began to mount the stairs. All was silent and empty, 
but on arriving at the third floor we encountered the land- 
lord, leisurely and genial, coming to meet us. He assured 
us they were prepared for guests. Would we desire 
dinner? We were eager for it. Very well, his wife was 
out visiting but he would fetch her and we should have 
it at once, and soon a pretty, smiling young woman came 
breathlessly up the stairs and welcomed us with effusion. 
Large as the framework of the establishment was, and we 
had it entirely to ourselves, the force consisted of but the 
husband and wife, their little boy of twelve, who was 
being taught to wait on table, and a wrinkled cook of 
great age who lurked in the background; with the general 
air of unconcern that prevailed it was no surprise that 
dinner, instead of being ready as offered on the instant, 
was an hour in the preparing. When it was served it was 
food worth waiting for, and never have I seen a more 
assiduous hostess. Having provided a meal excellent 
and complete, Signora Conterio still hovered about the 
table watching the appetites of her customers and search- 
ing her mind for additional morsels to tempt them. 

The Albergo Conterio is an establishment of resource 
and there are certain jars in the pantry holding dainties 
invented by the hostess, and if on having this divulged to 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

you, you express interest she will produce them and urge 
you to try them. Also I have known her to despatch 
her willing husband across wet fields at six in the morning 
to find the best figs in the valley when she has discovered 
you are fond of that fruit. Thus it is clear that it is no 
misfortune to spend a night in Arcidosso as you journey, 
or many nights if you have a fancy for lingering in a sweet, 
aloof spot among the mountains to ramble and to rest. 
After our meal we were shown to pleasant, airy rooms, 
which I hope may have remained as clean and orderly 
as they were then when the Conterio family had just as- 
sumed the lease of the hotel and felt acutely the dignity of 
responsibility. 

Daylight the next morning showed us the external aspect 
of Arcidosso which has a character quite its own, for, 
having long ago lost its walls, it is entered casually from 
the green country outside it by way of a broad street 
where the buildings, rather ample and dignified in type, 
do not crowd upon one another and there is plenty of light 
and air. It is only at the farther end of this street that 
one comes upon the older portion of the town, pictur- 
esquely mounting and tortuous. Every such place should 
compose itself symmetrically about its castle and Arcidosso 
does so; the granite rock upon which the rocca is founded 
rising at the right point to a fine platform which supports 
the deep brown rugged structure with its diversified bulk 
and high battlemented tower. It is approached by stairs 
and narrow passages and is the only gloomy thing in the 
village, for it has been converted into a prison, though not, 
I am glad to say, for the lengthy incarceration of prisoners 
but rather as a place of detention till its inmates are 
brought to trial. 

From it one looks down upon tile roofs, the tops of many 
cypresses, and a delicious old garden, very spacious but 
empty now, and sees how Arcidosso lies on the softly 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

moulded slopes of this beautiful upland valley, the centre 
for a scattered group of smaller villages that show them- 
selves upon hill ridges or among groups of trees all forming 
as lovely and pastoral a scene as can well be imagined. 
Two streams flow past and many white roads wind be- 
tween them; northeast lies the summit of Monte Amiata 
and southwest the steep mass of Monte Labbro where still 
stand the bleak ruins of the buildings erected there by 
David Lazzaretti, a prophet of the last century called 
the Santo Davide of Arcidosso, whose rapt spirit seems 
still to walk among those heights as he lives in the secret 
hearts of many of his believers in this valley. 

Besides its prophet the region had also its poet, that 
Giovan Domenico Peri, contadino, who was so character- 
istic a product of the mountain. His parents were humble 
folk of the neighborhood, but, being fondly anxious for 
their little son, sent him early to the village school. 
While there, terrified at a brutal punishment he saw in- 
flicted by the master upon one of his companions, he 
slipped out of the room and fled. To go home would 
mean to be returned to the school. Instead he climbed 
to the lofty pastures above his home and for three years 
remained there with wandering shepherds, undiscovered 
yet often able to gaze down from those heights upon the 
clustered roofs of Arcidosso. One of these shepherds 
taught him to read Tasso and Ariosto and the boy, already 
endowed with a poetic temperament, developed an absorb- 
ing love of verse. 

Reading of this, one's fancy travels back across the 
three hundred years to picture a shepherd of the high hills 
with a little child wandering beside him as day after day 
he guides the flock among the lonely heights of Amiata. 
Perhaps they sometimes pause upon a knoll — keeping the 
flock in sight — above the beautiful tumult of domes and 
crags, of greensward and running water that from where 

i6i 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

they stand is flung downward to the plain; the man's voice 
utters the melodious syllable, the measured Hne that turns 
to pure music in the ear of the child as he listens, breathes 
it in, and remembers. And at night, under the stars, be- 
side a flickering fire, the old heroic tales pour forth agam 
from the stored memory of the shepherd and the boy 
listens entranced till the endless flow of the voice, the puls- 
ing movement of the verse, overcome his senses and he is 
lulled to sleep. 

At last his father who had sought for him anxiously 
found him and took him back to his home but no 
longer insisted upon sending him to school for the boy 
begged to be given instead the care of the oxen; and as 
he guided them along the furrowing soil his mind was 
filled with fanciful imagery, and when the hours came 
that he was free from labor, his village companions gath- 
ered round him in the open air and he not only poured 
forth rispetti and strambotti, but pastoral dramas, to the 
delight of his hearers. After a time his fame passed be- 
yond the borders of Arcidosso, and one of the Strozzi 
invited him to come to Florence and recite his poems be- 
fore the grand duke, Cosimo II. Peri had now been 
married several years and the invitation to leave his home 
and his beloved mountain did not tempt him, so that it was 
only after long persuasion that he reluctantly ventured 
forth into the world. Even then he refused to change the 
fashion of his clothes and insisted on appearing at the 
Florentine court in rough homespun with his goatskin 
cloak over his shoulder. 

In the great sala where he was received there were 
gathered many of the nobility and the learned men of the 
city all curious to see the rustic poet. Cosimo sat in the 
midst and at his feet crouched his dwarfish court fool. 
It is said that the duke, if lacking in taste, had a merry 
humor, and when Peri entered he burst into a loud laugh 

162 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

provoked by the contadino's appearance, though he had 
consented beforehand to receive him in his country garb. 
Giovan Domenico gave no sign of embarrassment at this 
mortifying reception but stood quietly waiting till Cosimo 
asked to hear some of his verse. He then bowed gravely 
and produced a manuscript from which he began to read. 
He had not read far when suddenly the obnoxious jester 
sprang at him and shouting derisive insults began to 
beat him with his fists and accuse him of stealing the 
poetry he was reciting as his own. The poet no more 
embarrassed than before flung off the creature with a few 
smart blows that sobered him and sent him cowering to 
the feet of his master. 

Cosimo now interposed and questioned Peri as to the 
originality of his verse and asked for an improvisation. 
Peri returned his manuscript to his pouch and at once 
broke into a series of lines in which he satirized so pun- 
gently the dwarf who had outraged him that his hearers 
applauded with delight and the interview ended in a 
triumph for the poet. Cosimo ordered his "Destruction 
of Fiesole" printed and promised that every year there 
should be given him a quantity of grain sufficient to feed 
himself and his family. He would have detained Peri 
in Florence for the idle entertainment of his court but the 
poet could not be prevailed upon to remain, and, sturdily 
climbing upon his donkey, made his way back to Arcidosso. 
Hardly had he arrived and been rapturously rieceived by 
his friends when he heard that the Duke d'Onano was 
traveling through the country and would soon reach 
Arcidosso. Giovan Domenico had perhaps noted some 
things of advantage to remember during his stay at the 
court for he lost no time in preparing to meet the duke, 
and, awaiting the cavalcade upon the highway, he ad- 
dressed him in a rapid flow of witty and cajoHng verse in 
which he told of the privilege conceded him by Cosimo 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and suggested that his grace the duke should show himself 
no less generous. Since the Grand Duke of Tuscany had 
providfed him with bread for the rest of his life, would it 
not be a graceful act on the part of his Highness of Onano 
to supply an equally necessary element of food? Bread 
consumed alone is undeniably dry. What if it should be 
supplemented by the wine that might so admirably accom- 
pany it. Otherwise, in order not to die of thirst, one would 
be constrained to content himself with water, a cheerless 
drink at best. 

The nobleman smiled goodhumoredly at this harangue 
and granted the request, ordering that Giovan Domenico 
should receive thereafter a sufficient number of barrels 
yearly to assure that he and his family might drink their 
wine undiluted. 

The poet was not spoiled by his brief contact with the 
luxury of a court, and clung as tenaciously as ever to his 
peasant life. Only once more was he persuaded to leave 
Arcidosso, and this time the invitation was to visit Rome 
where his host would be the versifier, Ciampoli, a mediocre 
writer much admired at that time and overwhelmingly 
vain. To him it had occurred that it would be highly 
amusing to show off this obscure contadino and make 
game of his pretentions in a company of the literati of 
Rome. Again, with distaste and reluctance. Peri was 
persuaded to leave his home and journey to the great city, 
but this adventure was no more agreeable to him than his 
Florentine experience. He pined for his mountains, and 
the grandeur about him only pierced his heart with 
homesickness. Ciampoli was bent upon having the diver- 
sion of his presence at a dinner to which he had invited 
many of his friends, and after the utmost urging Giovan 
Domenico agreed to attend and for once to lay aside his 
country dress and put on the conventional costume which 
was prepared for him. 

164 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

111 at ease he entered the stately dining room and when 
he saw the table set forth with shining silver and endless 
dishes of rich food his gorge rose. This then was the 
wasteful and wicked luxury in which the rich dwellers in 
cities indulged. He thought of his Httle home and of the 
appetite and good cheer that gave zest to the plain fare 
with which he was so content. 

He took his place at the board and began with gingerly 
hesitation to eat of what was placed before him, but before 
the banquet was half over he suddenly sprang to his feet 
and began to shout and gesticulate like a lunatic. He 
declared he was the victim of a conspiracy, that they were 
in league to poison him, and with this he dashed out of the 
room, flung off the fine clothes that had been given him, 
dragged on his own rough garments, seized his scrip, and ran 
from the house deaf to all remonstrance. This was his last 
concession to fame, and whatever may have been the induce- 
ments held out to him afterward he never again forsook his 
home, and there he happily lived out his days with his wife 
and his two daughters, one of whom he must have especially 
delighted in as she inherited his facility in versification. 

Early one morning I woke to unaccustomed sounds in 
Arcidosso and looked down from my high window upon a 
surprise. The whole street had blossomed over night 
into a country fair. Booths and long tables were set up 
and a busy, cheerful crowd, discussing, buying, and selling, 
moved everywhere between and about them. Now there 
is no longer anything to invite desire in the objects offered 
for sale, even in the most primitive Italian village — such is 
the discouraging solidarity of the world of commerce in 
these days — but the buyers in themselves are always 
entertaining. From far and near they were jgathering in 
company with their great slow-moving oxen from the 
north, from the south, from the west, along the winding 
roads that lay between the gay green fields, they ap- 

i6s 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

preached — hardy contadini with their sturdy wives, 
perhaps bringing a child or two; pretty girls in smart 
blouses of crimson, com color, or blue, with shining hair 
and blithe faces ready for the periodical excitement of 
market day. There had been a shower a little earlier 
and some of the umbrellas in use were still raised. Bless- 
ings upon the custom that makes these umbrellas pea 
green in color and of a texture that becomes translucent 
when wet! Dotted along the way they resembled great 
bubbles of crude glass of the tint of sea water. 

Here and there were half-grown calves, two at a time, 
linked together at the neck, the younger couples a little 
restless under the restraint, the older fast learning to take 
it patiently and walk soberly as it is their lot to do when 
age has fitted them for their laborious destiny. Their 
glossy hides were of a bright tan color which changes to 
silvery gray when they have reached maturity. The oxen 
collecting that day were nearly all hovi di Maremma, a 
breed nearer the wild state than any other, exceedingly 
strong and hardy and, withal, moderate eaters. They are 
content with straw in default of a better hay, with occa- 
sional green food in summer and in winter a little bean 
meal sprinkled over the straw to add nutriment to it. 
Learning early to walk in pairs, they begin to work at 
three years of age, first at drawing carts, then, as their 
strength increases, ploughing. After ten years they begin 
to deteriorate, and at last they are rested and, alas! 
fattened for the butcher. Their flesh is much liked by 
the peasantry as it is considered that it makes far better 
brodo than that of younger cattle. It is said that in the 
Maremma the cows while their calves are young are 
fierce to the point of being dangerous. The white Chiana 
oxen, seen upon the other side of Monte Amiata, are as 
heavy but taller and with short horns — a tamer breed, 
more carefully reared and scientifically fed. 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

As soon as possible I went down to take part in the 
gayety of the fair and examine the wares offered for sale, 
and though my purchases were sHght, being confined to 
some lengths of very fine hair rope, I enjoyed the occasion 
with the best, and felt my acquaintance with Arcidosso 
and its region would have been incomplete if I had missed 
the gathering. With reluctance I was about to turn from 
the Monte Amiata district to another part of Tuscany, 
though not before having a glimpse of the other fortresses 
of the counts of Santa Fiora, Casteldelpiano, and Triana, 
only a few miles away. 

Southwest of Santa Fiora stands Triana, fashioned by 
feudal arrogance as an impregnable fortress of the Aldo- 
brandeschi. It rises from a fine spur overlooking a pass 
which must always have made it important, for the road 
from Santa Fiora and the Monte Amiata region forks here, 
one branch leading to the busy town of Manciano and 
the other through Scansano to Grosseto. These were old 
highways of travel and Triana was excellently placed to 
swoop down and collect road tolls from those who perforce 
passed below its battlements. Those battlements are all 
obliterated now, and the high, square tower shortened. 
What is left to-day is a mere conglomerate mass of building 
of which some portions differ slightly in height from others 
and all are covered with roofs hardly more imposing than 
flat lids. One gateway has been rebuilt but in its con- 
trasting newness it adds nothing desirable to the eye, yet, 
though shorn of its once menacing air, Triana still couches 
there upon its rock, a sentinel over the valley it has watched 
for eight hundred years. 

In 1 3 51 when there happened to be four Aldobrandeschi 
— ^Andrea, Giovanni, Aldobrandino, and another in author- 
ity, for in that family the power was divided equally and 
not concentrated in the eldest brother — a code was drawn 
up for Triana, which is illustrative of the feudal usages, 

167 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

laws, and penalties of that time, and long remained the 
standard of government there. If we are to judge by the 
rules framed and by the particularity of the details, the 
people of Triana were an unruly group, not slow to anger 
and ever ready with tongue, fist, and weapon. With re- 
gard to the latter the idea of forbidding or limiting the 
carrying of arms even by children had not been thought 
of at that time, excepting as it applied to strangers, and a 
sentinel at the gateway of Triana required any such to lay 
everything of that nature aside before entering. For the 
safety of the inhabitants in this castello an official called a 
cafFaggiaro was responsible. It was his business to patrol 
vineyards, vegetable gardens, fields, and even the woods 
adjoining, for the forests were so carefully guarded that a 
case is recorded at Arcidosso where permission to clear 
away a few trees in order to plant grain was not obtained 
without considerable difficulty. Vineyards, too, were the 
subject of special care and each person was obliged once a 
year in the month of April to plant one hundred grape 
cuttings. Attention was also paid to bee hives, and it 
will be seen that the duties of the caffaggiaro were by no 
means light for all must be kept safe from trespass by man 
or animals, and the latter, if wandering, returned to their 
proper place. 

Besides all this there was the danger of alien pilferers, 
brigands, and, far worse, companies of adventure, who 
might be looked for at any moment and warning must be 
given promptly. The caffaggiaro carried a little horn 
which he blew at intervals for reassurance, and when its 
tenuous note reached the ear of the shepherd boy on the 
hill, the ploughman in the field, the vine-dresser, or 
the digger bent among his vegetable beds, it must have 
carried with it a sense of comfort and protection that we 
of this age can hardly comprehend any more than we can 
feel the sickening terror that struck to their hearts when 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

clanger threatened and the caflFaggiaro rang the great bell 
of the castle. This might mean that signals from the 
hilltops had reached Triana and a band of pitiless demons 
would soon be upon them plundering and burning. Then 
they must think quickly. Could they drive in the cattle? 
Could they collect the sheep? Was there time to save 
any part of the harvest, or must they lose all but their 
lives, and those, too, if they delayed too long? Small 
wonder that there was a punishment for ringing the alarm 
bell without legitimate cause. 

The everyday life of Triana was strictly regulated as to 
seemly conduct, and every breach fitted with its penalty. 
Respect for parents, correction of children, and retaliation 
for injuries to relatives were taught. No one was to be 
permitted the practice of magic, such as divination or 
incantations for bringing evil to others. Bad language 
was discouraged and there follows a list of injurious terms. 
One might not call another thief, homicide, perjurer, 
forger, or bastard under penalty of a fine of ten soldi and 
especially must the shocking name heretic (patarino) 
be unspoken. To throw this in the face of any one was so 
gross an offence that it cost twenty soldi. One exception 
with regard to bad language is made. For a husband 
under provocation it was allowable to use any excess of 
epithet to his wife and also to beat her if he saw fit. In 
another portion of the document it is added that to accuse 
a man of having killed his wife shall not be construed as a 
serious discourtesy, although to imply to a wife that she 
has made way with her husband cannot but be counted as 
a mortal insult. The behavior of women appears to have 
caused lawgivers much exasperation, for still earlier than 
this, in a Sienese statute enacted in 1294, it is written, 
"Women are a sex to be looked upon as most dangerous 
in disturbing the course of justice." 

Swearing is forbidden, one may not swear by his body, 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

his blood, by God, the Virgin, or any male or female 
saint of the Lord, and if to these last he applies any vulgar 
word the offender is to suffer a heavy fine and, if unable to 
pay, is to be put in irons. To proceed from violence of 
word to that of deed, faults of the latter class were sched- 
uled in order such as: first, to snatch a man's cap off; 
second, to spit at him; third, to seize him by the clothes 
or the hair, and here it is particularized as to whether he 
whose hair is pulled falls to the ground thereby, whether 
he is dragged, whether he bleeds, or whether he suffers a 
broken bone, for though to throw a stone, to strike or 
to kick, brings a loss of ten soldi, the sum mounts rapidly 
as the injuries become serious. In many cases the above 
punishments were doubled if the offence was committed 
in the presence of the Signore or his family or in church. 
In the Signore was vested the right of judging and punish- 
ing all criminals such as counterfeiters, robbers, assassins, 
etc.; the last appeal was to him only and it is easy to 
understand that in these isolated, tyranically ruled castles 
very terrible injustice and cruelty often took place, indeed, 
certain feudal practices and not infrequent incidents are 
nothing less than appalling. 

Social obligations were also to be observed; for example, 
the inhabitants must not sully the public fountain nor 
allow their pigs to defile it, neither must they dry linen in 
piazza or against the town walls. Sweeping must be 
attended to regularly; that is to say, from April to Septem- 
ber each person must sweep that portion of the street 
in front of his own door once a week. During the days 
between he was allowed any amount of unpleasant accu- 
mulation as long as he remembered to drive a stake into 
the ground near his threshold and cause the heap to 
grow about it, not spreading too far. Any person who 
wished to throw water out of a high window must first 
call "Guarda !" three times in a loud voice for the warning 

170 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of passersby. Fruit trees near a boundary line were the 
subject of special rules. If certain branches of one over- 
spread the ground of a neighbor, then the fruit of those 
branches belonged to him nor must **the owner of the 
trunk" or his family attempt to enter the premises of that 
neighbor and collect any of it as it was his property. 
Also if branches overhung the road and fruit fell upon 
the ground any one passing that way might gather up as 
much as he could carry in his hands without reproach. 

All laws enacted in those days were severe upon 
strangers, who were always the subject of suspicion and 
in general fared ill. They were an obnoxious class outside 
the law, they could not bring an action, and, in Siena at 
this time, if one was killed, the fine was but a third of 
what was exacted if the victim were a citizen. In the 
country the Signore could take the law into his own hands 
in such cases and he seldom troubled to consult any other 
authority. Is it to be wondered at that when the young 
communes thought to gain firmer control of the feudal 
barons by ordering them to come into the cities, they 
found they had introduced an element of turbulence and 
insubordination hard to cope with, for these gentry at- 
tempted to carry on there the same independence of law 
which they had practised in their inaccessible castles, and 
when they were fortunate enough to capture an enemy, 
judged him without asking any participation by the city 
authorities and also dealt the penalty. In Florence itself 
it was no uncommon thing to see torture being applied 
openly at the gates of private individuals, as in the 
Bostichi family whose house was known through the city 
for the fact that the torture of prisoners went on there 
almost daily. 



171 



ViV."i..»-*« 











An Old Palazzo in San Casciano 

CHAPTER XI 
The Merse — Rapolano 




NE day I left Sieha to drive In the valley 
of the Merse, that tributary of the 
Ombrone, which, after flowing past the 
monastery of San Galgano, takes its way 
northeast among many hills till, a few 
miles from Siena, it suddenly doubles 
upon itself and turns directly southward 
through the broad level meadows of 
its name. In a space no larger than 
that which Tuscany occupies the variety of character in 
its valleys is a continual surprise. There is the wide, 
opulent Val d'Amo, great avenue to the sea, full of busy 
towns under old castle walls, teeming with the life of to-day 
yet exhaling the spirit of the past, weaving before one 
dreams of the wars, the pageants, the dramas it has wit- 
nessed; the Val d'Elsa with its beauty, its sunny fertility, 

172 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

its memory of tragedy; the Val di Pesa, so pretty and 
diminutive with its tiny stream, its glowing green benches 
of cultivation, its toy bridges; and, in contrast, the Gar- 
fagnana with its noble width, its mountains of height, its 
wondrous walled villages. Then there is the gentle Val 
di Merse where, among smooth green meadows full of 
grain, the beryl-green river flows slowly and noiselessly 
and deepens in still pools under the shade of tall white- 
stemmed poplars. These valleys and many, many more 
are jewels in the crown of that incomparable land. 

The boundaries that enclose the floor of the Val di 
Merse are abrupt, darkly wooded hills from whose sides 
such castles as Cap raj a and its opposite neighbor, Castello 
di Notte, look down. Castle of night, what took place 
within your walls that you carry that ill-omened name? 
Perhaps you are old enough to have belonged to the 
Ardengheschi, that particularly pestilent family that so 
long tormented Siena. Their territory reached almost to 
the walls of the city and, safe in their gloomy fortresses, 
they could drop down upon the highway that led past to 
Grosseto and the Maremman seaports and strip the un- 
happy traveler. When the feudal power began to yield 
to that of the growing communes, the Ardengheschi of 
necessity submitted and they were then made to promise 
they would build no more castles in the valley of the 
Merse. 

Some fifteen miles down these meadows a by-road turns 
out of them to the right and begins to mount and, with 
many zigzags of uncommon steepness, to carry one farther 
and farther into the heart of the hills, among woods that 
look as wild as though never disturbed by man. Ever- 
green oaks are in great number and under them grows 
wild box in vigorous masses and, where shade is thickest, 
beds of fern. It was in autumn that I saw all this and 
about me rose the incense of that fragrance which such 

173 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

undisturbed verdure gives forth after the first rains, 
sweeter almost than any of the fresh odors of spring. 
Presently as we climb slowly there appears through the 
leaves a small white church, embowered in green and 
bracketed against the steep hill on a broad flagged plat- 
form whose low parapet shows the marks of its age as it 
stands there, still giving comfort and protection to the 
scattered people who till the small patches of ground or 
carry on charcoal burning among these hills. The little 
sanctuary is so secluded, so peaceful that it looks as though 
it must have developed from the retreat of some hermit, 
loving nature as well as holiness, and if so he chose well. 
One or two small houses have grown up near it and, across 
a ravine, only a stone's throw away, stands an example of 
the humbler class of villas one occasionally comes upon 
in such retired places. It is not to be taken for a farm- 
house, though many a farmhouse is larger, for there are 
certain marks that differentiate a villa that has undergone 
adversity from a casa colonica no matter how extensive 
and important it may be. For example, this one has a 
pretentious gateway flanked with two solid pillars topped 
by heavy stone balls, and the main entrance, some fifteen 
feet above the level of the ground, is approached by a 
broad flight of steps with solid balustrades. 

In the small courtyard stands a well-head and in the 
garden, close by but separately fenced about, is a stone- 
bound pool of water — used for irrigating purposes but so 
disposed as to form a charming feature there instead of 
acting solely as a utilitarian adjunct — ^while, from the 
upper terrace of the garden there is a beautiful prospect 
of tiny valleys and wooded knolls descending toward the 
east. As for the pockets of soil in the irregular ground, 
they must be exceedingly rich if one is to judge by the vigor- 
ous growth of everything from olives and grapes to roses. 
A democratic garden it is, where things of beauty and of 

174 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

use grow side by side and add to one another's attractive- 
ness by their juxtaposition. And why indeed should a 
plant that has been put under the yoke of servitude to 
man at once become an outcast from the society of idle 
loveUness? There is less of this separation in Italy than 
elsewhere and we of other lands might well consider it. 

It appears that this villa was once the country seat of a 
rich proprietor whose estate was of great length and 
breadth, but whether through misfortune or improvidence, 
his holdings shrank till there remained but a few farms. 
With the departure of prosperity there disappeared also 
the owner himself and a tenant now occupies the house 
and tills the soil about it for what return it yields him. 
It will have been seen that the court, the garden, and even 
the features of the landscape which form the setting are 
all on a somewhat diminutive scale and the house also is 
externally a modest mansion of two low stories, compactly 
planned, without much embellishment, and with the years, 
too, somewhat out of repair, but in the main room 
of the interior one comes upon an amusing surprise. It 
opens directly from the entrance without the intervention 
of hall or lobby and is an apartment of rather stately pro- 
portions with a large fireplace and a tiled floor. At the 
first glance its aspect is quite impressive, but at a second 
one guesses by its furnishing that its early owners must 
have divertingly parodied here the state they kept up in 
their town palazzo. The walls are hung with canvases 
of great size and pretension but worthless execution, the 
settees are roughly sawed out of inferior wood and stained, 
while their pompously mounting backs are decorated 
with coarse carving and ill-painted coats of arms. There 
is also a banqueting table, mediaeval in intention, and 
high-backed chairs of another period and of as worthless 
workmanship as the settees. One feels at once like putting 
on a costume showy with cotton lace and tinsel and having 

I7S 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

recourse to paint, powder, and glass jewels in order to get 
into harmony with a grandeur of this type. 

Ostentation ceases at this apartment, however, and the 
rooms which succeed it are simple and comfortable 
enough and of moderate size till one reaches the opposite 
end of the building where there is one, corresponding in 
shape with that first described and probably not always 
used for storing grain for which it serves at present. The 
lower story, of course, contains a vast kitchen whose cano- 
pied fireplace is furnished with seats where a family 
might keep warm on the coldest winter evening if, waiving 
ceremony, they were so disposed. Then there is the spe- 
cial room for flour sifting and bread making, the enormous 
oven for the baking being built outside the house, and the 
cantindy where wine in wicker-covered flasks, olives, cheese, 
and all the excellent things produced upon the place make 
a goodly show. The many ground floor rooms and their uses 
are quite bewildering to a foreigner, but at last one emerges 
from the house and is shown the farm animals which 
are kept so beautifully clean that their close proximity 
is not noticeable. There are the silkworms, busy weavers, 
whose eggs are literally bought by the thimbleful, at so 
much according to that measure, the two snow-white 
heifers, gentle and beautiful as deer, the fowls, the sleek 
donkey, and, last, but of greatest bulk, the pig. Pig, 
did I say ? No such name befits a creature of its size and 
dignity, so little removed from its ancestor the wild boar 
as its white curling tusks are evidence. The gate to its 
apartment being opened, the owner invited it to come 
forth. After looking the company over for a moment it 
did so, slowly and with labored care, for its great body 
moved upon legs of a sHghtness that gave insufficient 
support. Having walked forward a few steps it settled 
down opposite us upon one side with something between a 
sigh and a groan and fixed its small green eyes upon us with 

176 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

an expression at once so intelligent, so cynical, and so 
appraising that I can never forget it. 

Perhaps it will have been surmised that the tenant of 
this happy villa is new in his occupation of it and hence the 
pride he takes in it and his willingness to show oflF to a 
sympathetic acquaintance all its details and advantages. 
If in his new life any lack is felt it is that of congenial 
intercourse with people of his own class, for there is in- 
evitable loneliness in being so far removed from easy 
communication as one must be in the solitariness of those 
hills. It was therefore interesting to find that there is no 
habitation so hidden or inaccessible as to be avoided by 
guests of a certain kind as the following will illustrate. 

The tenant is possessed of a lively, inquisitive little son 
of twelve and one day at noon the boy who was playing 
in the open ran in to find his father and excitedly announce 
a visitor with demands on the household. 

**I asked him what he wanted, father, and he said half a 
litre of wine, some bread, and some cheese. I asked him 
what his name was and he smiled a little and said it was 
Tri-Tri and that you were expecting him. Were you, 
father? And shall I tell him to come in?" 

"No," said the tenant slowly, "let him stay where he is 
but you may go down and get what he asks for and take 
it out to him." 

The child hastened away to do so and thereafter during 
the time the leisurely stranger remained and partook of 
the meal he had ordered, the boy ran to and fro carrying 
brief bulletins. "I asked him where he was going and 
what he was doing and where he slept but he only smiled 
at me. He smiles a good deal. He is dressed much 
better than you, father." "I would not see him myself," 
added the tenant afterward in relating this incident, "one 
has to tolerate people like Tri-Tri, but one need not en- 
courage them." 

177 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

"He told me, father," said the boy in one of his reports, 
"that he is not going to ask you for anything more to-day 
than the food you have given him because you are not the 
owner here, but he says Signor (naming a pro- 
prietor near by) must give him five hre m money and 
much more of things to eat. How did he find out that 
vou were not the real padrone, father? He knows a 
great many thmgs." 

To such moderate terms as these are the gentlemen of 
the road reduced at the present day. Tri-Tri long since 
chose his mode of life and laid out the route he preferred. 
He knows his business well and is familiar with the affairs 
of every one in his chosen clientele, so that he can balance 
his requirements to suit the income of those he lays under 
tribute. The agent of whom this farm was leased had 
told the tenant Tri-Tri was to be looked for and that he 
had better be given whatever he demanded. It is not 
very long since much more was expected and was always 
yielded without argument. The wife of a contadino 
living in a remote part of the country such as this would 
usually have a small table carefully prepared and set at 
one side to be ready on the moment for a visiting brigand, 
and when he arrived felt constrained to serve him with 
the best at her command. It will easily be realized that 
now as then the aloofness of a neighborhood like that 
which the tenant has chosen offers the natural field for a 
gentleman like Tri-Tri to operate in, its seclusion being 
Its pleasantest and safest qualification. 

At the castle of Ripa d'Orcia, about fifteen years since, a 
bolder brigand than Tri-Tri appeared one day and besides 
money, exacted the best food that happened to be ready 
to serve. To consume it at leisure and at the same time 
to take precautions against interference, he looked about 
for a safe position and chose it where there was an angle 
in the steep roadway that climbs to that little fortress 

178 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

some thirty feet from the inner gateway and perhaps three 
hundred from the next turn below, he thus commanded 
the approach. He seated himself on the parapet, the 
top of which on the outside was fifteen feet from the 
ground, at that place a steep and stony pitch, and was 
enjoying his meal when two men came suddenly round the 
lower bend in the road. One glance at them was enough, 
they were carabinieri whose duty it would be, whether 
they relished it or not, to arrest him. Without a moment's 
hesitation he sprang upon the wall and leaped from it to 
the rocky ground beneath. In doing so he, of course, ran 
the risk of broken legs if not of death, but he was fortunate. 
Unharmed, he made a series of bounds like a hare down the 
declivity to the river and at incredible speed scrambled up 
the opposite bank and was lost in the shrubbery. 

Standing at the point from which this robber had made his 
spring I heard the tale from one of the men employed in 
the castle who added with amusement that the two cara- 
hinieri who figured in the story turned out to be a couple 
of inoffensive visitors perfectly innocent of any evil in- 
tention in regard to the hero of the unnecessary exploit. 
I inquired what sum of money he had come to ask for and 
the reply was, **/ do not rememher what at that time the 
amount of the tribute was." Another well-known bandit 
who goes by the affectionate diminutive of Biondino is 
now in prison serving a seven-year term, and before long 
even the mild practices of a Tri-Tri will be a thing of the 
past. 

About thirty miles east of Siena lies a group of hill 
towns interesting as well for their own beauty as for cer- 
tain high lights of Tuscan history that once touched them. 
Some are upon the slopes toward the Chiana Valley, some 
a little withdrawn among the hills, and all differing with 
that charm of variety which never fails in the Tuscan 
landscape. From Siena they are easily reached by rail- 

179 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

way or highway, and from Chlusi the road is shorter still. 
These towns are Rapolano, Lucignano, Marciano, Sina- 
lunga, and Torrita. If the starting point of our Uttle 
journey is Siena we leave it at the southwestern gate 
known by either of two names, Porta San Viene or Porta 
Pispini. It came by the former, its earHer one, in the 
twelfth century when the long-desired remains of San 
Ansano, Siena's patron saint, were borne into the city 
through this portal amid an exulting throng shouting, 
** // santo viene I II santo viene ! '* Passing under its 
frescoed arch and coming out upon the highway we drive 
through low hills for some six miles, gradually approaching 
the famous battlefield of Montaperti, and who without a 
quickened heart can gaze upon the ground where that 
crowning struggle between the Guelfs and Ghibellines 
once strewed the ground with dead Florentines — "the 
rout and the great slaughter that dyed the Arbia crimson." 
The area fought over lies to the north of the road. One 
looks toward the little rounded hill with its group of high- 
trimmed cypresses where stood the castle of Montaperti, 
and down upon the River Arbia, a pretty willow-grown 
stream, as pastoral and innocent as though it had never 
flowed red with blood in the great hour of Siena's triumph. 
Somewhere upon its banks at the end of that day lay 
wrecked the mighty carroccio of Florence that so proudly 
started forth with bell and banner in the early morning. 
One can fancy its progress, slow, majestic, secure of vic- 
tory, as it moved into position. It shone brilliant red in 
the sunlight, the eight chosen bullocks that drew it were 
covered to the hoofs with rich drapings of red. From the 
centre of the car rose the staff tipped with its golden globe 
from which floated the flag of the Commune. In front 
of this a group of warriors rode, behind it the trumpeters 
blew blasts of joy and defiance. As the day waned, the 
battle raged around it till at night with broken wheels it 

i8o 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

lay, disabled but not deserted, the faithful few still fighting 
off the foe and Tornaquinci and his seven sons defending 
it till one after another they fell beside it. 

Make friends with a venerable peasant who lives 
hereabout and he will tell you that at midnight of a full 
moon, ghostly hounds, white as the moonlight, run hither 
and thither across the ancient battlefield baying their 
hoarse lamentations. Siena and Florence are at one now, 
yet all the centuries that the ploughshare has passed over 
these fields have not quite smoothed away the ancient 
enmity among some who bear the historic names of that 
day. As we stood looking at the quiet landscape that 
bore not a suggestion of war or violence, I said to my 
friend the Sienese: 

" Professor has written so vividly of this region 

will he not go further and write of the Val di Pesa ? " 

"No," said the Sienese with a slight stiffness of manner, 
"he will never write of that. It is in Florentine territory. 
He is of Siena." 

Not far from the field of Montaperti stands the simplest 
of small white churches dedicated to San Ansano. You 
approach it under the leafy roof of an avenue of horse- 
chestnuts, lighted when I saw it by many a cluster of white 
blossoms. Where the avenue comes to an end an oval 
space is left before the little building, upon which stand a 
carven well-head and a tiny shrine. The whole is sur- 
rounded by a line of slim young trees supporting garlanded 
vines, like a delicate frame fitting the gentle memory of 
the young saint who here so joyfully gave up his life in 
martyrdom. Tradition describes him as a noble Roman 
youth who suffered under Diocletian. At the age of 
twelve he became dissatisfied with the pagan instruction 
he was receiving, listened to the teaching of the Christians 
and was converted. He was baptised and at once began 
to preach the new faith. His family, horrified at his 

i8i 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

conduct and in terror of the danger into which it brought 
him, used every effort to make him renounce his beHef 
but in vain, and even the Roman authorities made it easy 
for him to escape from the prison where they had confined 
him. Thence he betook himself to the Pope whose bless- 
ing he sought, after which he traveled toward Siena, 
where he finally set up his tent upon the banks of the 
stream Arbia. 

The idolatrous inhabitants of Siena, filled with curiosity, 
crowded out of the city to see the young Roman who so 
oddly had settled himself in their neighborhood, and to 
them he ardently preached Christianity and denounced 
their graven images. At first they were infuriated and 
would have fallen upon him and killed him, but his tender 
age, his beauty, and the miracles he was performing made 
them hesitate, and presently many of them were con- 
verted. This was soon known in Siena and Ansano was 
seized, carried to the city and imprisoned, but it appeared 
that no dungeon walls could contain him and by morning 
he was again at large and preaching with fervor in the 
very streets of the city. This time a detachment of sol- 
diers, sent to arrest him anew, surrounded him, but when 
his converts would have defended him he put them aside 
and advancing toward the soldiers submitted to be chained 
with such sweetness and serenity of mien that many of his 
captors were melted to tears and became converts upon 
the spot. "Alas!" continues our chronicler, "The ob- 
durate Roman proconsul roared like a volcano in eruption 
when the saint was for the second time brought before him, 
and attempted to terrify him with the most ferocious 
threats.*' But seeing that Ansano remained unafraid the 
proconsul, almost bursting with rage, ordered his martyr- 
dom to be of supreme torture. 

He was borne away and thrown into a boiling cauldron, 
but lo, the water became instantly cold. It was next de- 

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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

creed that he should be beheaded. On the way to the 
spot, a Httle beyond the walls of Siena where the execution 
was to take place, they passed the palace of the proconsul 
himself before which stood a much venerated idol. At 
the moment the young saint arrived before it the idol fell 
to the ground at his feet and was dashed in pieces. At the 
place of execution Ansano raised his face, shining with 
ecstasy, to heaven, and kneeling laid his head upon the 
block. As it was struck from his body the lips moved and 
the awed spectators heard him dedicate Siena forever to 
the Virgin. At this, the time of his death, he was but 
nineteen years of age. His followers sadly buried the 
body and erected on the spot an humble oratory, which 
became a shrine for many pilgrims. The remoteness of the 
spot, the sunny stillness, the simplicity and beauty of the 
setting, seem in harmony with the story of the young mar- 
tyr, and one is glad on entering the little sanctuary to 
find it richly fortunate in the possession of a madonna and 
saints by Pietro Lorenzetti. It is said to be the master's 
first work and is lovely in spirit and color. 

West of San Ansano the way lies for a space across clay 
hills once arid and forbidding, now being gradually tamed 
to the uses of the husbandman. But before reaching 
Rapolano one emerges into a fairer region with oak- 
covered hillsides and flourishing cultivation. Rapolano, 
ancient stronghold of the Berardenga counts, from whom 
it passed to Siena, still shows parts of its ancient fortifica- 
tions, but over and about all its antiquities crowd recent 
buildings. It looks flourishing. There are new paving 
stones; new drainpipes, painted scarlet; and new shutters, 
of vivid green. It has, in fact, an air of prospering in the 
present and purposely ignoring the past. There is even 
a lead-colored band-stand upon a bare new piazza outside 
the gate, there is also a poor inn which has not yet caught 
up with civic progress. But though Rapolano is not 

183 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

one of the endearing cities of Italy it possesses a jewel 
that any among them all might well covet, one of Neroc- 
cio's most beautiful madonnas. Why this lovely ^ irgin 
should h'ave been moved from place to place in Rapolano 

I do not know, but at the time of my visit she was in the 
retirement of a small unused church popularly known as 

II Santo, securely locked and damp within; but whatever 
the difficulty of access I advise no traveler to miss the 
happiness of seeing her. She sits there, an exquisite, 
slender creature, her head bowed a little over the child, 
who as an adorable golden-haired baby, pushes with one 
hand against his mother's breast while with the other he 
supports himself on her knee as he bends eagerly toward 
Saint Anthony. On the other side of the Virgin stands 
Saint Hermengildus, crown on head, with a robe wrought 
of dim crimson and gold, a noble presence both princely 
and saintly. 

A search for the key that unlocked this treasure sent us 
to Poggio Santa Cecilia a mile or two east of Rapolano, 
but the delay turned out a piece of good fortune, since the 
road leads by pleasant ways into a charming valley. 
Ringed about with steep hills it has a level floor from 
which rises a smaller conical hill detached and perfect in 
contour. From base to summit this is covered with ilex 
and pine shading a beautiful undergrowth. The road 
which in ascending encircles it, is planted with pillar-like 
cypresses. Emerging at the top from all this greenery you 
pass through a gateway and so into a little street which 
leads to a flowery garden where stands the villa, combining 
the remains of ancient wall, arch, and portico, and from 
the parapet before it one looks out upon a beautiful peace- 
ful view of billowing hills gradually converging to a natural 
gateway through which the eye sees to a far blue horizon. 
The little fortress that centuries ago crowned this height 
sustained in its day a historic siege, for in the thirteenth 

184 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

century the men of Arezzo, together with a band of Sienese 
exiles, held it against Siena for more than a year, till those 
within gnawed the leather of their shields for very hunger 
and in their thirst were forced to catch the dew for drink. 
At last there came a night of storm, the wind howled and 
the rain lashed the castle. Protected by the darkness and 
the noise of the tempest the exhausted garrison fled, but 
whether they reached safety is not surely known for the 
story has two endings, and the sadder one says the fugi- 
tives were taken and put to a cruel death. 

After leaving Poggio Santa Cecilia and Rapolano behind, 
it is not far through winding valleys before we reach San 
Gimignanello, once a strong fortress and of great age for 
it belonged to the Scialenga counts in the twelfth century. 
Like Poggio Santa Cecilia it has been converted into a 
villa and in form bounds three sides of a quadrangle and 
possesses one stout gray tower left over from the old time. 
Boldly placed on a spur which overlooks a smiling valley 
it is yet not greatly picturesque because of the evident 
newness of its late additions, the construction of which 
embodies practicality at the expense of harmony. Hav- 
ing admitted this hard truth I put it behind me and de- 
clare that San Gimignanello will remain with me forever 
as an unforgettable picture touched by the magic of the 
hour in which I came upon it. The afternoon was waning, 
a brief shower was just over, the sun striking brilHantly 
from under a bank of cloud shone down the narrow valley 
and spanned it with the perfect arch of a rainbow. Under 
it every color partook of the intensity of a jewel, the gold 
of mounded genista, the green of the turf, the blue of the 
distance, all were glorified. Opposite, still under the 
shadow of retreating clouds, the dark tower called Vio- 
lante, once the shelter and lookout of robbers, emerged 
from the darker forest of ancient oaks that covered the 
height above. Everything dripped and glittered and I 

i8s 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

knew that each leaf and grass blade down below suspended 
a crystal globe that held the world in its minute mirror. 
Little pools of water lay reflecting the sky in the hollows 
of the worn stone on the ramparts over which I leaned, 
and moss and lichen, moistened and refreshed, turned 
emerald and ivory. Down in the court a white peacock 
stepped daintily across the flags. 

Then as we left it and passed down the valley in the 
evening light, we looked back and distance smoothed 
away those modem accretions, and San Gimignanello 
with its stout tower, aloft upon the rock where it had 
sat for centuries, retired into antiquity again and the 
Scialenga counts nested there once more and bade defiance 
to Siena. 




l86 











> 







Sarteano. The Castlb 



CHAPTER XII 

LUCIGNANO — MaRCIANO — ^ToRRITA — MoNTICHIELLO — 

Chianciano — Chiusi — Sarteano 

UCIGNANO, noble walled city, as 
Repetti calls her, stands finely aloft with 
an altitude of two thousand feet, upon 
the western rampart of the Chiana val- 
ley a few miles from San Gimignanello. 
If the traveler approaches her in a 
leisurely mood, which is the only one 
through which to make friends with 
the small shy places among these 
mountains, he will do well for she is the most pictorial 
and characteristic one of the group, full of charm and of 
simple beauty. I am tempted to advise taking a first 
survey of Lucignano from a parallel hilltop that lies a 
stone*s throw to the southwest. To this spot I strayed 
one day and, clambering one of the mighty foundations 

187 



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BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of the fortress begun there by Cosimo dei Medici, dis- 
covered how admirable a view of the city, its setting and 
the country it commands, was to be had from that point. 
Looking at it thus it composes in a way to delight the 
eye. Complete in itself and completely covering its hill, 
you see, rising from its spheroidal outline, two towers, one 
at the north and one at the south, while, between, the 
mass of the collegiata forms the summit, lightened by 
three campanili a vela, two rising from the Palazzo Pretorio 
and one from the church of San Francesco. The whole 
is set in green and trees break the severe lines of the archi- 
tecture here and there, even to the top, where, beside an 
ancient and unrestored tower, are two or three silvery 
olives. By its very position Lucignano was doomed to 
suffer the hard fortune of a fortified town upon a natural 
boundary line; century after century she passed from one 
ownership to another, being annexed in turn by Arezzo, 
Perugia, and Siena, with a brief period of independence, 
till at last she submitted voluntarily to Florence. This 
was in 1553, and when Siena, too, had passed into the same 
hands, Lucignano renewed her allegiance to Cosimo. He 
at once directed the restoration of the city walls and the 
construction of ample wells and cisterns which had been 
urgently needed, but also he ordered the building of this 
very fortress from which we look from a superior height 
across a grassy depression, and so, slightly downward, 
upon the town of Lucignano. It is a curious juxtaposition, 
the little city walled for defence and yet commanded by 
this other castle, planned for prodigious size and strength. 
Was its motive protection or mistrust? At all events, it 
was never completed though the lockings and bracings of 
its huge stones show what it would have been. In certain 
places fifty feet of wall rising from the lowest point of the 
foundation look as perfect to-day as they could have been 
three hundred years ago. 

188 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

In my exploration of it I was joined by a smiling, sociable 
boy of fifteen whose beautiful face and gentle manners 
made his companionship the more welcome. After a 
little we came upon an angle at the base of a wall, a lovely 
spot embowered in wild shrubs and carpeted with grass. 
The sod was threaded with orchids frail and exquisite, all 
daintily clad in purple velvet and mauve crepe. I gath- 
ered a few, but sparingly; not for the world would I have 
depleted that little garden. We sat down in its charmed 
quietude to talk. The faint fragrance of crushed grass 
rose about us in the mild warmth of the late afternoon. 
We were very happy. Facing us was a stone archway 
that denied us entrance but provided conjecture, the upper 
half opening into hollow darkness, the lower buried in the 
earth. The boy knew all about it, he was entirely confi- 
dent that it was the opening to an underground passage 
between the fortress and Lucignano; he pointed out the 
direction; oxen had broken into it while ploughing the 
ground for that new road below us. Always feeling hos- 
pitably minded to details of this kind I agreed with him 
that the evidence was indisputable and we gazed into the 
archway with renewed interest, though the blackness in- 
side gave up no secrets. Then we reverted to the present 
and talked of various things, life in Lucignano, the arti- 
choke crop, the wages for road mending. Meanwhile we 
walked over to the town and strolled first under the 
outer walls which truly are among the prettiest in all 
Italy. A diminutive term of this kind has an incongruous 
sound as applied to fortifications, but since such survivals 
have passed their warlike age and become merely pictur- 
esque features their character and treatment have changed. 

The walls of Lucignano show every shade of gray and 
yellow stone, weather-worn red brick, and patches of dis- 
colored plaster, from the apertures in which drop sprays 
of green, while at the top garlanded vines form a cornice. 

189 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Many little gardens stretch from the first line of houses 
inside to meet this cornice; they are green with shrubs and 
gay with blossoms. These are the humbler houses but 
there are other buildings with fine old windows and pil- 
lared loggias all equally adorned with clinging creepers 
and bright flowers. You may pass into the town by 
either of two fine entrances, Porta San Giusto or Porta 
San Giovanni. At the latter the two huge halves of the 
inner gate, fine examples of their type, are folded back 
into the wall, presenting a surface covered with the conical 
heads of great bolts clinching the heavy planks of which 
they are made, the lining on the inner side being of sheet 
iron. In the day of Lucignano's importance these gates 
were wellnigh impregnable, now they serve to embellish the 
series of arches that lead into the little city, which is 
unusually clean, and, on the high open piazza, has an air of 
being sedulously swept. The town hall, austere and un- 
decorated, stands on one side and opposite is the rocca 
rebuilt, but good. The church of San Francesco with its 
fine simple portal and rose window is built of courses of a 
hard gray stone and a soft green one, with the result that 
time has worn and channeled the latter so as to produce an 
effect of color and irregularity very pleasing in effect. 

The interior of this church is large and bare. It has not 
escaped the vandalism of obscuring whitewash and the 
hacking of doorways through its pictured walls, all the 
more to be mourned that there are interesting and valua- 
ble frescoes as well as pictures here, the work of Bartolo di 
Fredi, Fungai, and even Signorelli. Over the second altar 
on the right is a fresco by Bartolo di Fredi; Death rides a 
horse fleet as the wind; he is not represented with the face 
of a skull but with an intent determined human counte- 
nance. His long Hght hair streams behind him and the 
scythe hangs at his side, while he is in the act of sending 
an arrow from a bow. Behind him are the aged, the sor- 

190 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

rowful, the lame, with arms outstretched in eagerness to 
detain him but he has passed them by, while before him 
are two happy and unconscious lovers chosen for his shaft. 
EflPorts have been made to uncover other frescoes and 
charming faces look down upon you here and there from 
rifts in the confusion of these attempts. If you are not of 
the forbidden sex, a nun may perhaps consent to take you 
through a little door near the high altar and so upstairs into 
the conventual portion of the building, where are other 
treasures. 

One does not leave the neighborhood of Lucignano 
without going to Marciano — ^which lies so near it upon one 
of two long hill ridges to the north — because, though it is a 
little, poor place, it is great in memories, for, from the 
deep red tower that still lifts its broken summit in the 
midst of it, there watched those who witnessed the battle 
of Scannagallo, that conflict, so terrible, so piteous, that 
broke the heart and the power of Siena before Florence 
took her into captivity. On a hilltop not far away stands 
a mocking reminder of it, the little white temple piously 
built by Cosimo to commemorate his triumph and named 
by him the church of the Victory. 

There in this spot, upon that July day upwards of 
three hundred years ago, the forces of Cosimo dei Medici, 
coming to conquer Siena, faced the Sienese led by Piero 
Strozzi, across the brook called so well Scannagallo, the 
brook of slaughter and soon, as once the Arbia, to run 
thick with blood. More lay between these armies than 
the desire for victory; their two leaders, Marignano and 
Strozzi, confronted each other with the ferocity of per- 
sonal hatred; on the one side Marignano, as secure as 
superiority in numbers and carefully planned corruption 
could make him; on the other, Strozzi, gallant, headstrong, 
and over-confident, he who had fatally lost that earHer 
moment to strike that might have changed everything; 

191 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and both supported by unstable mercenaries whose one 
thought was the booty to come after the carnage. 

And over in Siena lay Monluc, burning with fever yet 
panting to be on the field, **/^ mourais d'envie d'y alter, 
mais le senat rCenjut d' avis'" — Monluc who had adjured 
Strozzi to stand on the defensive and risk no such trial of 
strength as was now to take place, while Strozzi disre- 
garding his counsel had paraded his glittering, be-plumed 
warriors to this battle as though to a holiday tournament. 

The end was assured before the first shock of arms. 
Marignano's cavalry began the attack. It was met 
bravely; when the turn of his Spanish foot-soldiers came 
they fell upon their knees to invoke the blessing of Heaven 
and sprang up eager to slay and to plunder. Hardly had 
the battle begun when Strozzi saw a detachment of his 
French soldiers falter, turn back, and begin a retreat bear- 
ing the ensign with them. It meant defeat. He desper- 
ately rallied his men, and fought bravely till he had had 
two horses killed under him and fell sorely wounded. He 
would still have remained upon the lost battle ground, 
but though he resisted he was borne away to safety by 
his flying troops, and while his wounds were bound up 
by a Franciscan friar he heard the imperialist shouts of 
victory, and in his anguish was fain to die. Merciless 
slaughter followed; the stream was choked with the dead 
and dying, the road toward Siena was strewn thick with 
the corpses of Strozzi's men and Lucignano which he had 
tried to make secure was surrendered to the enemy without 
an attempt at defence. 

The news was carried to Siena and, with the first shock 
of it, despair seized upon the people; the city rang with 
sobs, screams, and curses. Crazed women ran raving 
through the streets, they thronged about the votive chapel 
in the Campo, they crowded into the cathedral, and flung 
themselves upon the pavement in agony for their lost 

192 




c 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

legions and for the slavery that threatened them. But as 
the bleeding stragglers from the battlefield began to come 
in they calmed themselves and turned to succor them and 
pitifully bind up their wounds. The city had already been 
in a state of siege for five months, yet the women gener- 
ously brought of their slender stores of food and wine to 
distribute to the bleeding Germans and French as well as 
to their own people. After the first outbreak of terror 
the Sienese did not falter in their determination to hold 
out to the last against the hated Florentine yoke, and we 
have already seen how unspeakable were the suflFerings 
they endured for the following five months of the siege 
till, starving and exhausted, the remnant of the population 
left alive was forced to surrender. 

Strozzi, when he had partly recovered from his wounds, 
had taken refuge in Montalcino where he was attempting 
to collect his broken forces and send help and food to 
Siena, but before this he had searched out the Count of 
Mirandola's standard-bearer who had led his men in the 
treacherous retreat and hanged him. Sozzini tells us that 
the very day before the battle the man had been visited by 
a messenger from Marignano, this messenger was a con- 
tadino who carried to him twelve metal flasks full of gold 
crowns which were marked Trebbiano wine, that very wine 
called by the poet Redi in his "Bacchus in Tuscany" **t7 
vero oro potahile ! *' 

So the battle of Scannagallo was fought and the ultimate 
fate of the men and women of Siena decided. Of the 
heroism of the latter in that conflict there lives a tradition, 
borne out by the curious evidence to be noted in some 
small carved panels near the altar in Cosimo's Temple of 
Victory. These show certain fiery amazonian forms tak- 
ing their part upon the battlefield beside the men of their 
city in that last struggle for liberty. 

As I turned away from Marciano to return to Lucignano 

193 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

over that road once soaked with the blood of Siena, I 
looked back and remembered the words of a Sienese of 
to-day: "Among the undulations of those fields play 
blood-red reflections and on the hill of Scannagallo the 
Medici dome, built in the loneHness of the spot, receives 
the sunlight and sends a white ray toward the ramparts of 
Lucignano, while from a distance is borne the voice of a 
girl singing as she comes homeward with her sheaf of 
herbs, the familiar song of her countryside, 

**. . . O Piero di Strozzi 
Ferito nel fianco 
Da palla nimica, 
Fra gli urli e singhiozzi 
D'amara fatica, 
Morire volevi 
E non il potevi. . . ."* 

As compared with other towns of this group Torrita 
has a tame situation and is externally less arresting, but 
it is a typical castello and its streets remain contracted 
and dark as of yore though the houses have been shorn of 
those evidences of antiquity the eye searches for and the 
civic buildings upon its piazza have suffered sad dis- 
figurement in the name of restoration. This is a personal 
judgment and sounds like cold indifference toward splen- 
dor and celebrity when contrasted with the opinion of the 
Abate Luigi De Angelis who in 1821 wrote a little book 
about Torrita. He announces himself upon the title page as 
belonging to the University of Siena, Librarian of the said 
city and secretary for life of the Academy of Fine Arts, and 
gives as the explanation for producing his work at that 
time that a great distinction had just been granted the 
inhabitants of Torrita, that of being allowed to march in 

*Montepulciano, Chiusi e la Val di Chiana F. Bargagli Petrucci. 

194 



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Marciano. The Castle. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

solemn procession through the streets of Siena bearing 
their miraculous image of Santa Maria dell' Olivo which 
they devotedly worship and venerate. 

"For this reason," he says, "I have conceived the wish 
to celebrate to the world their spiritual joy and to com- 
memorate it with some lasting work honoring their native 
town which shall be worthy the ardor of their devotion." 

This amiable desire he finally decided to embody in the 
form of a book giving the history of Torrita and biographi- 
cal notices of the most illustrious of its citizens. " For, " 
he writes, "though far from inglorious is its name, through 
the carelessness of earlier historians it has been neglected 
while meriting to be better known." 

He regrets that certain authors allow themselves to be 
transported by fervor of feeling rather than held by the 
sober study of truth and resolves that his shall be a work 
which discriminates fairly among claims to immortality. 
"I cannot, I will not, I ought not, to pretend to infalli- 
bility," declares the ardent Abate and he proceeds to bind 
himself, whatever may be his personal enthusiasm, to be 
temperate and to look at all things in their true proportion, 
quoting Seneca to remind himself that "a small vessel 
upon a river looks great while upon the ocean it is in- 
significant." He then develops the plan of his work which 
is to be divided into two parts, the first devoted to the life 
and labors of Fra Giacomo di Torrita and the second to an 
historical account of the town itself. 

Although the famous men whose names adorn the an- 
nals of Torrita are many he chooses to dwell thus particu- 
larly upon Fra Giacomo as being the most noteworthy and 
he wisely remarks, "To rescue a town from obscurity it 
is enough that it has produced an illustrious man. Stagira 
had not been remembered in history but for Aristotle, and 
the name of the foremost restorer of the mosaic art in 
Italy suffices to bestow renown upon Torrita." By patient 

I9S 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

research he traces the remains of this artist through the 
different churches where they appear. Among them are 
Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome and San Giovanni La- 
terano where his name is found inscribed. His mosaics 
are also in Assisi and in 1225 he was working in the baptis- 
try of Florence. He died in Rome in 1295 and the Abate 
sums up his fame in the assertion that he was the greatest 
artist prior to Giotto. 

He then proceeds to devote the remaining and larger 
part of the volume to Torrita and in the following flowery 
language describes its situation: "Upon the summit of a 
tufa hill thirty-three miles from Siena, among happy olive 
groves rises the noble city of Torrita. From her left 
flank she beholds sunny Montefollonico, pleasing Amorosa, 
gracious Petriolo, and greatly fruitful Fratta. To the 
right, exposed to the southern sun, lies the most ancient city 
of Chiusi. Nearer stand Montepulciano and Pienza and 
to the east all the rich and teeming Valdichiana, only to 
breathe whose salubrious air to-day reminds us of the 
generations that have passed since Fazio degli Uberti 
complained of its malign influence.'* 

Here follow some well-known lines of Dante after which 
the Abate indulges in two or three Latin quotations and 
gives a long list of populous villages now existing where 
once malaria reigned. Next he reverts to Torrita and 
says: "Within its walls this town combines all those things 
which are necessary, convenient, useful, and decorative in 
the eyes of her inhabitants, while agriculture, industry, 
and commerce place her beyond all need to go begging 
from her neighbors for her means of maintenance." 

This felicitous description leaves nothing to be desired 
by the population of so fortunate a town and I trust that 
at the present day conditions are no less favorable than 
those of the last century when the good Abate wrote of it. 
He declares the origin of Torrita to be of the oldest and he 

196 




Torrita. Porta Gavina. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

is right, for there is no doubt that it reaches back to the 
Etruscan time. Of its Roman period Httle is known, but 
its mediaeval history was unusually turbulent, for standing 
as it does upon the slopes descending to the Chiana Valley 
it was Siena's bulwark of defence against Montepulciano 
and Arezzo with whom she was frequently at war. An 
added advantage of its position lay in the fact that the 
valley at this point was a network of pools and sloughs with 
here a ford, passable in dry weather, and there a tiny 
harbor reached by a winding passage in a very small boat. 
Certain paths near Torrita and the neighboring towns 
are, it is said, still called Via del Porto or Via del Por- 
ticciolo. 

In the middle of the thirteenth century Siena found 
Torrita of importance enough to order it strongly fortified 
and a port constructed from which to thread the swamp, 
and soon after she sent a podestd to keep an eye on the 
inhabitants and nurse their loyalty to herself. The walls 
rose but again and again they were broken through or 
torn down, so that, for many generations, the unfortunate 
population must have had continuous employment in 
rebuilding them, till in the fifteenth century Siena ordered 
their thorough restoration, and new towers constructed 
after designs by Baldassare Peruzzi, and it is the remains 
of these that exist to-day. 

During the inglorious war which took place between 
Siena and Perugia in 1358 Torrita was necessarily in- 
volved, and at the foot of her hill Siena suffered a needless 
defeat. A battle took place there in which the Perugians 
were victorious, whereupon exulting greatly in this small 
triumph, they sacked and burned Torrita, and, vain- 
gloriously creating a number of knights on the battlefield, 
they departed, carrying away with them fifty banners 
and many prisoners. After this the town had a short 
respite, but besides being bruised in the quarrels between 

197 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TU&CANY 

larger cities Torrita was often in danger from the con- 
dottiere who early acquainted themselves with the unusual 
fertility of the soil in its territory and the profit of plunder- 
ing its granaries; and in 1363 the pestilent Company of the 
Hat found Torrita attractive enough to occupy indefinitely 
and decided to make it a base for raids upon the surround- 
ing country. Siena, always in danger from these maraud- 
ers, resolved to send her captain of war, Ceccolo degli 
Orsini, to Torrita with a company of soldiers but he was 
ordered on no account to provoke a battle as the Company 
of the Hat was in great strength and his defeat would be 
disastrous. Being a fiery warrior and finding the condi- 
tion of things there intolerable he took matters into his 
own hands and decided to attack the enemy. The plan 
was carried out with great spirit on Saint Paul's day and 
his men together with the people of Torrita, shouting 
"San Paolo! San Paolo!" made the assault with such 
fury that the Company of the Hat was completely routed 
and its captain, the Duke of Urbino, taken prisoner. 
Great was the rejoicing in Siena. Banquets were given 
in honor of the gallant Orsini, the rank of cavaliere was 
bestowed on him, and he was loaded with rich gifts. At 
the same time the authorities carefully refrained from con- 
firming him in his office lest with his hot-headedness he 
should prove less fortunate in his next disobedience. 

In 141 9 Siena seems to have felt assured of the fidelity of 
Torrita since under all her sufferings from without her 
loyalty had not wavered. She therefore remitted a por- 
tion of her taxes and granted certain privileges, one of 
which was that Torrita should be honored by having a 
podestd of the first order. On the annual arrival of this 
dignitary he was to be presented with the following gifts, 
namely: two pairs of fowls, two measures of wine, six- 
teen loaves of bread, six pounds of candles, two baskets 
of com, and a load of straw. 

198 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

The Abate in his story describes how in the following 
century the towns in the neighborhood of Torrita had a 
sudden access of civic activity and fell to cleansing houses 
and streets and constructing new buildings and monu- 
ments, through which they counted on acquiring fame and 
the homage of their posterity. Unhappily in the midst 
of the peaceful days Torrita was enjoying at this time 
there came a renewal of the plague which so frequently 
scourged Italy in those years, spreading consternation 
through the region. The Abate who is no friend of new- 
fangled remedies tells us that fortunately for the people 
they knew of no cure but that of supplicating the mercy of 
heaven, and having implored the intercession of the Virgin, 
presently the plague subsided. In gratitude for this com- 
passionate interposition they built a temple to their de- 
liverer, dedicating it to the Madonna of the Snows. 

Torrita claims the equivocal honor of having been the 
birthplace of Ghino di Tacco, the powerful outlaw and 
bandit celebrated in Boccaccio's second story of the last 
day. He is said to have belonged to the noble family of 
the Pecorai whose coat of arms, carved in stone, may still 
be seen there upon the exterior of a building, its design of 
four heavy chains straining from a ring in the centre. 
It is related how Ghino strangled with his own hands the 
judge who condemned his father and brother to death as 
highwaymen, how he cured the Abbot of Cluny of dyspep- 
sia, how he ran a long course of robbery and violence and 
at last instead of being hanged as he richly deserved was 
pardoned by Pope Boniface VIII and given a great priory 
to enjoy. 

One of the gates of Torrita has a heroic story connected 
with it. In 1553 the Valdichiana was in the power of the 
Imperial force, and Torrita fell into the hands of some 
ruthless Germans, who put to the sword every inhabitant 
who refused to shout with them "Duca!" instead of the 

199 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Sienese battle-cry, ** Lupa I Lupaf" These soldiers 
seized by the hair an old woman who with patriotic fervor 
still cried ** Lupa /" and threatened her with death. The 
courageous old creature defied them and refused to repeat 
the word **Duca/'* They beat her, they tortured her, 
they nailed her yet living to the Gavinana gate, but with 
her last breath she ceased not to whisper the forbidden 
word " Lupa ! Lupa ! Lupal" 

One morning, after having spent the night at Pienza, I 
started eastward toward the little town of Montichiello. 
The way led through an open, hilly country, keeping for a 
time within sight of tall Palazzo Massaini, towering so 
boldly above the valley and once a Cacciaconti castello. 
Being in the Orcia Valley one encounters creta now and 
again for it is often in sight yet never covering very large 
districts. The gray clay is of a grain so fine that it is 
packed and fashioned into miniature cliffs, ravines, and 
seamed mountain ranges by the action of the rains, but it 
is also easily moved and driven by the water so that the 
results of agricultural labor applied to it are frequently 
washed away. Sometimes a short grass grows thinly 
upon it that the sheep love as nothing else and it is said 
the quality of cheese made upon such scanty pasturage 
excels all others. Reclamation is going on and the first 
step taken is that of sewing the sulla, a plant whose 
roots are able to take possession and gradually bind the 
shifting soil together. The patient contadino waits for 
the process to take place thoroughly and then the area is 
ready for the plough. One result of this treatment is 
that one passes many a patch of ground glowing with 
the charming rose-colored blossoms of this same sulla, 
which for its beauty would grace any flower garden. 

After a time the road descends to cross the stream 
Tresa, and then, climbing slowly and steeply, one comes 
in sight of Montichiello, stout little walled town whose 

200 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY; 

great half-ruined tower rising from among olive trees 
is all that remains of the fortress that so heroically held 
out for Siena in 1553. Those were the days when clouds 
were gathering, when the siege of Siena was almost upon 
her, the empire was massing its troops, and Pienza had 
already fallen. Adriano BagHone held Montichiello 
against Don Garzia di Toledo and when challenged to 
give it up, sent word he would hold it as long as there was 
strength in his body wherewith to do it. 

This nettled Don Garzia who, to gain speed, had whetted 
the appetites of his soldiers by promising them the sack of 
the town. The population of Montichiello at the time 
was eleven hundred, only one hundred of whom were 
trained soldiers, but the place was difficult to attack and 
the enemy had great trouble in bringing the artillery to 
a position where it could command the walls for there was 
a natural defence of cliffs and the ground below was soft 
from the heavy rains that had recently fallen. With great 
effort two or three guns were dragged to a place as favor- 
able as it was possible to secure. "But," says Repetti, 
"not for this were they dismayed." A small party of the 
besiegers then attempted to scale the walls but the men 
of Montichiello always on the alert were there to meet 
them. They fought them off, they flung them from the 
battlements till they retreated bearing with them twice 
the number of wounded to those of the garrison. 

Unhappily in this engagement Adriano, their staunch 
captain, had been struck full in the face by a stone and so 
injured that he could no longer lead them, they were suffer- 
ing heavily under the fire of the imperial artillery, they 
had held out for more than two weeks, their powder was 
gone and they had nothing to defend themselves with but 
stones. Under these conditions there was no hope of 
resisting longer and it was judged best to surrender at 
discretion. The flint-hearted Don Garzia strangely 

201 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

enough appears to have been moved by the gallantry of the 
little band and allowed the common soldiers to go free, 
holding Baglione only as a prisoner. 

To-day the dwellers in Montichiello are said to number 
four hundred, but to the superficial observer this seems an 
over-flattering computation; silence reigns in the empty 
streets and in the small empty church. A few children, 
clean and promptly obedient, shyly regard the stranger 
from a distance, and no idle women sit in doorways or lean 
from windows. The men of the place are pigionali and 
go early to work in the fields of the neighboring contadini, 
only coming home at night, but there are many villages 
with a population of this kind where the aspect is very 
different. I have sometimes asked the reason for such 
contrasts but have got only a smile and the reply, "The 
population in one village seems to be created from the 
beginning clean and self-respecting, and that in the next, 
careless and idle, Heaven only knows why!" 

I suspect that one element in the difference is supplied 
by the character of the agent who has the care of such small 
places and whether he feels any concern for the lives of the 
humble people he lives among other than the amount of 
field labor they can be made to accomplish, for the agent 
who superintends Montichiello has the reputation of being 
able, intelligent, and humane. 

According to its ancient character Montichiello presents 
a brave if broken front to those who would enter it. There 
is the arched gateway with a high square tower on the 
right and two round ones on the left, all of warm yellow 
stone and looking as though they had never been repaired 
since the martial cUmax of their history. Just inside the 
gate is a turreted Borghese palazzo with a high terrazuolo 
for which the top of the town wall serves as a parapet. 
If one is invited to mount to it, it is found to be a fine and 
spacious one with the irregular facade of the palazzo form- 

202 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




A Chapel in Montichiello 



ing its background, a tempting place to linger. There 
are seats in plenty, and a pair of tables which it is interest- 
ing to note are formed of two massive grindstones mounted 
upon solid stone pedestals. Sitting there one has Monte 
Amiata opposite with the ragged peak of Radicofani on 
the left and Pienza on the right. I know no spot from 
which the latter exquisite little place is so well seen both 
for its site and surroundings and the charm of its outline 
and suggestion, and it is pleasant to remember as one looks 

203 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

at it that in one at least of its palaces, taste and affection 
have recently led to restorations of a type to give comfort 
to the hearts of those jealous for the beautiful memorials 
of Italy's past. These are the salient points in the pros- 
pect to be seen from that high terrazuolo and between are a 
score of little towns dotting the hills and vales till they are 
lost in the blue distance. Doubtless, Montichiello was 
not chosen for the picture thus spread out before it, but 
if it is sometimes the abode of its proprietor it must give 
happiness, for the prospect it commands could not be com- 
posed with a more exquisite art. 

The tower of the fortress that one sees from a distance, 
massive and stately still, together with a shorter one near 
it, rises from the high central point of the town, a solitary, 
grass-grown spot where a few gnarled olive trees keep 
them company. Portions of the wall, with a look-out, 
remain also, heavily hung with ivy and giving a foothold 
at the top for small shrubs that spring happily from be- 
tween the crumbHng stones. In a little church on the 
way one takes in descending from this place and which has 
a charming Gothic portal, there is a sweet Sienese ma- 
donna, a touching picture in which the baby, with head 
bent far back, gazes up into the face of the mother. I 
noted, too, the door of a Httle marble tabernacle in the 
wall, a thing of delicate carved decoration, and near it a 
curious Saraceni stemma, a negro's head with a snake 
curling over it. I strolled back through the small orderly 
town to the other gateway and took leave reluctantly of 
Montichiello and then, bearing still farther toward the 
east, pursued my way toward Chianciano where it stands 
almost upon the edge of the Chiana Valley. The drive 
to it, especially in May, is most beguiling, for then the 
yellow broom and the cistus, with its pink and white 
discs, deck the hill slopes and the deeper ravines are full 
of oaks and chestnuts in their spring foliage, while of field 

204 




Massaini. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

flowers the variety is bewildering and I know from ex- 
perience that within a few minutes you may gather no less 
than forty differing blossoms. 

The introduction to the northern gate of Chianciano is 
by means of a sort of causeway, partly natural and partly 
helped by the hand of man, but it is a striking approach 
in any case and as a military defence must have been highly 
effectual. Standing outside for a moment before entering 
the portal, you can see the full length of the broad main 
street to the opposite boundary of the town, and even 
farther through the southern gateway whose arch is filled 
in by the blue sky and an exquisite landscape beyond. 
Thus standing you realize that you are on a lofty place 
from which the land drops away on all sides, leaving it 
wide to the sunlight and the breeze and you look out over 
tree tops on leagues of the beautiful land of Tuscany. 
The lake of Chiusi lies to the east, the cone of Monte 
Cetona bounds the prospect in the south, and between 
lie hill and vale and the polished mirrors of other fair lakes. 

The town belonged in the thirteenth century to those 
border counts, the Manente, who so frequently changed 
their allegiance from Siena to Montepulciano or Orvieto 
as advantage swayed them till at last they cast off the 
domination of both; but with all this Chianciano was less 
tormented by conquest and destruction than many other 
towns of its size, while at the same time it was always 
much frequented by those who put faith in its famous 
mineral springs. It is, as we have seen, nobly placed, but 
it is also picturesque in itself; the buildings on the left as 
you enter mount with an effect of great height, while I 
am inclined to declare that there is not a more pictorial 
byway anywhere than the Via dei Sotti which follows the 
irregular line of the western rampart. Under many arches, 
some round, some pointed, the street passes as though 
forming a high-pitched gallery, the inner side of which 

205 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

consists of the unbroken line of its houses, with deeply 
niched front doors and here and there a Httle projecting 
shelf full of blooming plants. 

On the main street I am sure I encountered the belle of 
Chianciano. As she issued from her doorway in all the 
confidence of beauty it chanced that a country lad with a 
nosegay of wild flowers was approaching from the opposite 
direction, and with an imperious air she stopped him and 
demanded toll of his bouquet. It was an amusing scene. 
Whether it had been gathered for another or for what- 
ever reason, he proved unexpectedly parsimonious and 
grudgingly gave her a single blossom. She ridiculed him, 
enacted scorn and made a feint of claiming the whole. 
He was obdurate, shook his head and, failing in a rejoinder 
equal to the occasion, awkwardly flung away. Meantime 
the postman, young, good looking, and in the smartest of 
uniforms, crossed the street upon his route and rallied her 
upon her rebuff. With the pout of a spoiled beauty she 
saucily waved her hand toward the flower in his buttonhole 
which he at once gave her with a bow of mocking depth and 
a smile which showed off^ his fine teeth. 

Dennis, writing in 1845, says the way from Chianciano 
southward is through forests and past castles. Would 
that it were so to-day, but all have disappeared, the forests 
to give place to cultivation, the castles to be first aban- 
doned and then to disappear under the desecrating hand 
of those who pilfered their stones for building purposes 
and to whom they meant nothing more than convenient 
quarries. Yet in spite of what is gone nothing can destroy 
the loveliness of this region, nor would one spare a mile of 
the way especially if it is taken in the late afternoon, as it 
should be, and one comes at last to Chiusi where, golden 
in the sunset, she rises from the summit of her isolated 
hill, as serene amid her pastoral surroundings as though 
unstirred by any memory of the storms that have beaten 

206 




A Street in Montichiello. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

upon her head during the course of her long and changeful 
history. The ground that bears her is sewn thick with 
the bones of dead heroes, it is hollowed with Etruscan 
tombs and yields the golden ornaments of the Romans. 
Chiusi was the wealthiest of Etruscan cities when Rome 
was in her infancy, and from her impregnable walls she 
for long defied the armies sent against her. She was 
Gothic under Totila, the destroyer; later she became Lon- 
gobard and the palace of a duke succeeded Roman temples 
and labyrinths; finally she turned Christian and a cathe- 
dral rose, incorporating in its walls masses of costly oriental 
marbles, alien columns, and pagan carvings. 

Then came those centuries when she sickened and 
withered and malaria had its way with her while her 
strange Laodicean river, which in Roman times was walled 
and flowed into the Tiber, now hesitated, turned back and, 
spreading over the valley which under it became a swamp, 
sent its surplus waters to join the Arno. By this time 
Siena and Ferugia were fighting for possession of her, and 
during the long course of this warfare Siena built a tower 
down on the sandy flat beside the sluggish river to com- 
mand the bridge. This was to defy Perugia and was 
mockingly named Beccati questo (Peck at this). Perugia 
responded by immediately constructing one a Uttle larger 
and stronger at the opposite end of the bridge and calling it 
Beccati quello (Peck at this other). The bridge has dis- 
appeared but the two ineflPectual towers still stand smiHng 
ironically at each other while the centuries go by and the 
river's current hardly hastens more than of yore. 

Although the pestilent swamp was a menace to every 
one, the rival cities upon its borders bitterly resisted any 
attempt at interfering with it. It was too valuable a 
barrier to be deprived of in time of strife. When in the 
course of time Siena had triumphed and Chiusi belonged 
to her she succeeded for years in obstructing any attempt 

ao7 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

at change, indeed, at this time, a romantic ceremony took 
place annually in April, the symbolic marriage of Chiusi 
to her cherished morass. The civic magistrate in full 
panoply, with great crowds following him, descended to 
the river bank while heralds led the way in all their bravery, 
trumpeters blew with might and main, banners waved, 
and the people acclaimed as their magistrate stepped into 
a skiff (very small it had to be not to ground during the 
passage) and was rowed away. He crossed the stagnant 
pools, threaded the narrow water-ways, and, when he 
had reached the confines of the territory belonging to 
Montepulciano, cast a ring into the water with solemn 
ceremonies of espousal. 

Only in the fifteenth century did Siena's opposition to 
draining the valley give way. Listening to the prophecy 
of a vast and fertile garden yielding untold riches to its 
cultivators, she grudgingly gave her consent, the miracle 
was accomplished, and the poor fishers and humble ferry- 
men sadly withdrew before the builders of dikes and the 
followers of the plough. From her high-pitched empty 
piazza Chiusi now looks northward over plains of the 
richest cultivation in Tuscany, rescued from the death- 
dealing swamp of former years; to the east and west rise 
high hill ridges, and southward the pyramid of Monte 
Cetona and the shining face of little Citta della Pieve 
face each other across a lovely valley full of olives and vine- 
supporting trees, riotous hedges and fields of crimson 
clover. It is an undulating valley where hillocks are 
crowned with groves of oak and streams wind between 
them while the frequent presence of hamlets and farm- 
houses emphasizes the productiveness of its soil. 

Chiusi as a town is no longer especially interesting, but 
beyond the lovely prospect it commands it has a clean 
and comforting inn, the Corona, where the food is good 
and a pleasant flowery wine is served, and it is a centre 

208 




u 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




To THE Etruscan Tombs 

for many drives through a charming country full of sweet 
wayside enjoyment. If the Etruscans are dear to you 
you will have had the enthusiastic Dennis as guide and 
you will be already informed that some of the finest tombs 
are to be seen here, but even if you are not an impassioned 
Etruscan, there is hardly a more delightful way of spending 
a morning than to go in search of them. By the novel 
means of a cart drawn by two mighty oxen you may, if 
you like, be conveyed over rutted roads cut into the steep 
hills till, at last, stopping before an insignificant opening 
in a grassy bank, you enter the hillside and find yourself 
in the hush of two thousand years ago. Upon the painted 
walls of this tomb nothing of line or color has changed in 
all that time. The lady who is your hostess here sits 
watching the games which proceed in her honor and with 

209 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

her little parasol held Hghtly above her head becomes as 
human and familiar as yourself. 

A second tomb not far away but of a different character 
is also most interesting, and the beauty and quietude of 
these two will perhaps carry your memory back to Flor- 
ence where, in the small archaeological museum, there is 
one of the most unusual memorials ancient Etruria has left 
us. A tall figure carved in stone, now smoothed and 
weather-worn, lies stretched at full length upon a bier, a 
figure so softly relaxed, so peaceful that it possesses a 
more human and moving quality than any other of that 
age that I know. Marking the four corners beside head 
and feet are four round cushions, which if you observe 
closely you will see to be four ducks forming circles, as, 
with their heads beneath their wings, they sleep also, a 
perfect example of conventionalized decoration. 

One of the excursions I have spoken of as pleasantly 
taken from Chiusi is by way of the little winding valley 
of the Astrona to Sarteano and Cetona. Crossing over 
the line of hills which rises opposite Chiusi to the west, the 
road descends into that pretty vale and for some five 
miles bears toward Sarteano. When I first traversed it 
the weekly fair of that town was in progress and the way 
was bright with the gayest of painted carts. Scarlet was 
the prevailing color and their sides bloomed with the most 
vivid tints, while ambitious owners had added their full 
names as part of the decorative design. As for the great, 
placid oxen, if they knew vanity it was justified, they tram- 
pled along the highway perfectly groomed and dripping 
with scarlet tassels, while even their tails had been treated 
with scrupulous care and the terminating locks combed 
and curled. 

The older women walking by the wayside followed a 
happy fashion of wearing orange-colored kerchiefs over 
their heads, while the younger, sensibly disinclined to 

210 




Sarteano Castle. The Drawbridge. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHEJIN TUSCANY 

conceal their pretty hair, had left it uncovered but wore 
gayly flowered scarfs about their necks. Moving slowly 
along with this congenial procession we entered Sarteano 
and drew up at one side of the piazza to enjoy the scene. 
It was early and there was no crowding as yet, people 
were slowly collecting and neighbors from the country 
were greeted by the townspeople. Such a couple encoun- 
tered each other near me, a young husband and an older 
friend; he must have been a young husband to take so 
dramatically the inquiries after his household. His wife? 
A blithe wave of the hand. The bambino? an upward 
glance of repressed rapture. The family in general? A 
smiling bow and an outward turn of the wrist; and so the 
animated exchange went on with sympathy, vivacity, 
quick response and eager gesture that made the tepid 
communication of more sophisticated beings seem tame 
and colorless. 

From the pleasant bustle of the piazza I turned to the 
streets that rise gradually to the level of the castle which 
occupies a great space at the top of the hill. Towering 
there upon its oval base and looking north to the territory 
of Siena and south to the Papal dominions it was the most 
important stronghold of the Manente, the family that was 
the centre of so much disturbance from the thirteenth 
to the fifteenth century, at which period Siena contrived 
finally to subdue it. By that time the gloomy feudal for- 
tress of the earlier period was ruinous and the Sienese 
built a noble castle upon its foundations of which much 
still remains, the double circle of walls, some of the towers, 
and the central keep with its drawbridge. In the seven- 
teenth century it came into the possession of the house of 
Fanelli as a gift from the Grand-Duke Leopold, and the 
members of that fortunate family still hold and enjoy it. 
They have treated it with rare taste, making judicious 
restorations which do not disturb the beauty of all that is 

211 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

old, and such is the extent of the original enclosure that a 
villa in the midst of well-grown shrubbery and a garden 
of great extent are held within the outer circle of its walls 
and so adapted as to seem no encroachment upon anti- 
quity. Generosity to travelers allows one to wander in 
that happy garden, where the splendid remains of the 
castle rise among flowers and caressing creepers and the 
green tranquillity of ancient trees. Passing through all 
this to the western rampart one may rest upon a stone 
bench and look out from a leafy tent upon one of the 
fairest prospects in Italy, stretching away across the lakes 
of the Valdichiana to distant Cortona, and across to many 
a height beyond the boundary of Tuscany. 

There is a museum in Sarteano with a numerous popula- 
tion of reminiscent Greek heroes upon Etruscan reliefs and 
endless small objects, the plunder of many tombs; but its 
outdoor aspects are more attractive to the idle wayfarer, 
and in unfrequented nooks there are curious and pictorial 
bits to be discovered. If, for instance, you should find 
yourself in the Street of the Almond Tree — a crooked 
little passageway more like a mountain pass than a 
village street, where the houses stand close against gigantic 
rock masses — there, looking almost as old as they, rest 
the stone blocks of an ancient foundation, which carry the 
imagination back to the legend concerning the origin of 
those turbulent Manente counts who made Sarteano 
such a thorn in the side of her neighbors. The founder of 
this family is said to have been a gallant gentleman called 
Piero Cento-Scudi, a soldier of great prowess and as hand- 
some as he was strong. He was known as Piero Cento- 
Scudi for the reason that he wore a hundred golden scudi 
at his belt for the hundred tournaments he had fought and 
won, and, being high in office at the court of the emperor, 
he looked upon the emperor's beautiful daughter and fell 
deeply in love with her. After what wooing he was able 

212 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

to carry on in secret as occasion offered he gained her 
affection in return and for a while they concealed their 
passion, but, afterward, despairing of being permitted to 
wed, they fled away together and came to Tuscany where 
they took refuge in Radicofani. There they continued 
to dwell and there seven sons were bom to them. 

After many years the emperor in his progress through 
his domain came to that part of Italy and halted in the 
valley of the Paglia, not many miles from Radicofani. 
When Piero heard of this he hastened to make favor with 
certain of the barons in that noble company, and having 
brought them to see his wife and his seven comely sons he 
urged them to beg the emperor to overlook the disobedi- 
ence of his daughter and grant forgiveness to her and her 
husband. 

The barons touched by the sight of this goodly family 
returned to the encampment and, first conferring together, 
they asked a grace of their imperial master. The em- 
peror magnanimously consented to grant it without in- 
sisting upon knowing what it was, and they then revealed 
to him their desire that he should pardon Piero and related 
all that had taken place. The emperor's heart was soft- 
ened and he promised his forgiveness, ordering that the 
whole family should be brought before him without delay. 
This was done and when he beheld his daughter and her 
beautiful children he was overcome with emotion and, 
embracing them all with tears, forgave them and acknowl- 
edged them as his kin. The oldest son he made Count 
of Sarteano with much land thereto and bestowed upon 
all of them rich gifts of diverse kinds. So Piero and 
his family left Radicofani and journeyed to Sarteano fifteen 
miles away where they and their descendants lived and 
ruled for full five hundred years. 

Of course the authenticity of this agreeable narrative 
has been called in question, hard history disputes it, but 

213 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

at least the counts Manente of Sarteano, from the eleventh 
century on, were possessed of Piero's martial qualities; 
they practised fighting as a fine art, and when not busy 
at home hired themselves out impartially to fight other 
people's battles, and they were always in demand. For 
the rest, the history of Sarteano repeats that of other small 
towns in the Sienese domain. 




Chiusi 




214 




Badia a Spineta 

CHAPTER XIII 

Cetona — Badia a Spineta — San Giovanni d*Asso — 
montefollonico — montisi 



ROM Sarteano it is about four miles to 
Cetona, nor to my thinking can there be 
found a town more perfect in type, more 
exquisitely framed in country loveliness 
than this, with its castle tower rising 
above secular trees, its houses in subor- 
dinate ranks below, its neighboring villa 
garden all spired with cypresses, while 
the ground, dropping from it in suc- 
cessive terraces, is plumed with olives, verdant with grain, 
and broken by little settlements of conical hay-ricks. 
It crowns the top of its own hill while higher mountains 
form a wall behind it. The key of the castle may be had 
in the piazza and one finds there is little left of it beyond 
the tower with its seven-foot walls, but you are allowed 

2IS 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

to climb it to the top if you like, passing many rooms on 
its successive floors, unfurnished but with ceilings flaunt- 
ing a new and highly varnished Pompeian decoration. 
There is the ever-beautiful prospect from the roof, after 
viewing which you hurry down to enjoy the rugged ex- 
terior so happily draped with vines and caressed by noble 
cypresses and pines and where a deeply shadowed flight 
of steps leads down to a pretty little open-air theatre. 
The tiers of seats are nearly covered with sod but the pit, 
the stage, and the prompter's niche are still quite perfect 
and also the grand private box for the family importantly 
opening from an upper terrace. 

If this beautiful valley beguiles us to prolong the ex- 
ploration of it, we can continue in the southerly direction 
and presently come to Le Piazze, a small village above 
which stands a castle in the clouds, Fighine — ^who could 



mr\ 



is- ~ ? (bi ' 


















*n^ 



> 



Castle of Fighinb 
2l6 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

have hoped to take it, perched as it is like a hawk on the 
topmost branch of a tree! The road to it by many a 
turning is good but exceeding steep, and when the top of 
the range is reached, there, upon a stony, domed summit, 
stands the bleak, compact little fortress with towers close- 
hugging the walls and foundations well spread at the 
base as though to resist attacks of the elements as well as 
those of human enemies. Its gateway and machicolations 
remain nearly perfect, but the walls are cut through in 
many places to accommodate the modern green-shuttered 
windows of a habitable villa. Against one side is a small 
walled garden, showing no evidence of loving care, and 
beyond is an empty desolate little village of heavily built, 
low houses, many of them ruinous, others uninhabited, and 
nowhere is there an effort to soften or beautify, not even 
among the cottagers, the small attempt of a flower pot 
on the window sill. At the lowest level in the village is a 
church which having first been allowed to fall into com- 
plete ruin is now being repaired from the foundation up. 
Fighine looks at the same time harsh and despondent, and 
this is emphasized by the sight of old women breaking 
stone on the road close by; and yet with care and sym- 
pathy it might so easily take on a very different air. 

From its great height the Chiana Valley Ues below, 
drawn like a map, and the summit of Monte Cetona, which 
we have been approaching so long, is now close by and 
companionable; but when we have sat on the steep hillside 
for a while and given our hearts to nature who has done 
so much here where human beings have done so little, we 
turn away with a sigh, and, slipping down the western 
flank of the mountain, take our way toward San Casciano 
de' Bagni in its sylvan valley and are comforted, for it 
looks inhabited and by a small cheerful population who 
enjoy life. The antiquity of the little town is unques- 
tioned, its baths were known to the Romans, and Horace 

217 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

speaks of them. In the Middle Ages it belonged to the 
wide-spreading realm of the Viscontiof Campiglia d'Orcia, 
but all that is old in the place is put out of countenance 
by the magnificence of the conspicuously new castle lately 
erected in the midst of it. No doubt it represents a former 
historic building, but its high walls, its towers, its battle- 
ments, its gorgeously painted coats of arms, its floating 
banners, try to reproduce the past and yet have such an 
air of juvenility that the effect is amusingly incongruous. 
There can be little doubt, however, that the citizens of 
San Casciano are immensely proud of it. But in a street 
apart from all this modern grandeur stands the aged 
Collegiata with its time-stained fa9ade and its fluted col- 
umns, some half buried in the wall and supporting nothing. 
Looking farther you will come to a very beautiful old 
house having a singular tower and a long loggia with heavy 
square pillars well worth searching for and seeing. 

No, San Casciano is not without attraction, but a 
greater lies beyond it, for, turning homeward toward 
Chiusi by a different road from that which brought us, 
we enter a glade than which there can be nothing more 
alluring, for the way leads between banks of genista in 
clumps and patches of the purest gold, partly in the open 
where the yellow of its massed blossoms is almost dazzling, 
and, again, sweetly subdued by the flecked shadows of 
great oaks that in this narrow and sheltered valley reach a 
size and spread that is truly wonderful. Nowhere have 
I seen the golden broom in such happy luxuriance. 

Half way between Sarteano and Radicofani lies the 
small, lonely valley before mentioned where Siena fought 
that bloody battle against her own rebellious subjects 
in 1262, and perhaps to this day laborers occasionally turn 
up lance heads and broken spurs in the ploughed furrows 
that lie so evenly waiting for the autumn rains. Nothing 
could be more peaceful and pretty in its miniature propor- 

218 




Cetona. Castle Tower. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

tions than this Httle hollow among the hills when I last 
saw it, for though it was late in the year the dwarf white 
oaks that softly cover the slopes still held their foHage, 
turning from green to russet; the pink clover was in bloom, 
and it was easy to find violets and larkspurs at the edge 
of the woods. In this setting stands the gray pile of 
Badia a Spineta, once an important abbey under the 
protection of a great castle on the heights above it. It 
was suppressed in the time of Napoleon, but it is still in 
good preservation and now shelters those who are engaged 
in cultivating the fertile soil about it for some distant 
proprietor. Periodical services are held in the church 
which is spacious and dignified but empty of all the rich 
accessories it once contained, and it would be the better 
for the absence of the cheap colored prints that take their 
place at present. 

There is a Httle triangular cloister with severely straight 
pillars and a large, bare interior court that one longs to 
have made as beautiful as such backgrounds can easily 
be rendered with a little fostering care of plants. At the 
back the ground drops steeply to the brook in descending 
terraces, thrifty with the handsome spiked foliage of the 
artichoke and the succulence of meeker vegetables. 
Through a gap in the hills behind the abbey the crater 
fortress of Radicofani outlines itself against the sky. 

The climb to the castle of Mojane is a deHghtful one, 
the path winding among open woods and grassy hollows, 
and from the summit of the hill which it crowns it is easy 
to see how commanding was the site chosen, for it stands 
thus between the two valleys of the Orcia and the Chiana 
"the desert and the sown," and so, centuries ago, could 
keep a wary eye on each. A mighty pile it must have 
been in its day as the vast space covered by its ruins 
testifies. Nothing of form is left but one can trace the 
outer and inner circle of walls, rising in places to a height 

219 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of ten and fifteen feet — magnificent stone blocks which 
show that determined destruction, not gradual decay, 
must have laid it low. It stands on the edge of a precipi- 
tous pitch over the ravine where the stream Guecenna 
flows, and where a road lay that people obliged to travel 
between Siena and Orvieto had need to take, in the days 
when travel was not a holiday affair to be lightly and 
securely undertaken but a matter of moment beset by 
perils. 

It appears that this particular pass was especially 
dreaded by wayfarers as being a favorite haunt both of 
gentlemanly outlaws and professional robbers— the former 
being little more agreeable to meet than the latter, for 
what was a gentleman temporarily outlawed to do? A 
living he must have, and the plunder of merchants and 
other travelers was his resource. Less aristocratic gentry 
adopted the road as a profession and sometimes became 
amazingly expert, like a robber Forsyth tells of, who, hav- 
ing religious scruples and desiring to square himself with 
heaven, stopped a man just below this very castle of 
Mojane and killed him with his right hand while he held a 
rosary in his left. 

One wanders about the untrodden ground this great 
castello once covered, through grass and fallen leaves and 
under oaks that have grown up and spread their branches 
above its mounded grave. Over there, long ago, a gate- 
way opened, and here under the sod was a rock-flagged 
court that resounded to the hoofs of horses, the ring of 
weapons, and the shouts of warriors who went clanging 
in and out. A whole volume of history and romance lies 
buried here and how one longs to open it and pore over 
the yellow pages! One curious legend connected with it 
survives and is still repeated by the peasants hereabout. 
It runs as follows: 

Long ago when the castle of Mojane was at the height 

220 




PQ 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

of Its grandeur, it was visited by a great personage, no less 
a one indeed, than a queen, who arrived one day with her 
court and a numerous escort of armed retainers. A short 
time after they were all established in the castle, it hap- 
pened that a feast day of the church occurred. The 
sovereign concerned herself little with this festival but 
there were those in her suite who felt the celebration of it 
should not be neglected and desired to send down to the 
abbey and fetch a priest. To this there was a refusal from 
the queen, and it was whispered that on account of her 
reputation she probably feared the abbot might decline 
such a request, furthermore the high-handed lady an- 
nounced that she herself would conduct the service as she 
had entire authority In such matters. 

The arrogance of this assumption startled the whole 
company, the timid glanced at one another with blanched 
faces, the reckless smiled, but curiosity took possession of 
all and they crowded into the chapel. 

Having decided to carry the celebration through, the 
queen proceeded with high ceremony, and with two assist- 
ants she arranged the altar and set forth the consecrated 
vessels. She then took her place before It and began 
solemnly to intone the service. Those in the congregation 
held their breath and shook with excitement or terror, but 
when the moment arrived in which the celebrant was about 
to lift the sacred chaHce on high, lo! a miracle! From 
it rose the head of a serpent. Its jaws extended. Its fangs 
exposed. With frightful rapidity it grew to enormous 
size and with its coils enveloped the lady and dragged her 
swiftly through the cowering, shrieking people and out of 
the chapel door, drowning her screams with Its fearful 
hissing. Through the court yard it passed and out of the 
portal; the sharp rocks tore her flesh, and every green thing 
that touched her shrank away and withered. 

Straight to the edge of the precipice the serpent bore her 

221 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and flung her body over the edge. Down, down to the 
bottom it rolled and bounded and her voice was heard no 
more; but all night long a terrible storm beat upon the 
castle, and some said they saw demons riding upon the 
lightning as they came to carry away her sou}. Thus was 
sacrilege justly and awfully punished, and to this day 
along the channel the serpent made in its passage no plant 
has ever been known to grow and even the bushes bend 
away from it. 

Wandering many times southward from Siena by the 
road through Asciano to Pienza and often returning by the 
same route, certain small towns, far up on the mountains 
to the east, shone white in the afternoon light, and with 
the last rays of the sun still more warmly glowed and 
almost beckoned till I could no longer refrain from climb- 
ing the long slopes that lie so peacefully, happily basking 
in the spring sunshine, and paying a friendly visit to such 
little places as Montefollonico, Montelifre, Montisi, and 
Trequanda, such are their musical names. Opposite 
them is San Giovanni d'Asso. They all lie in the region 
of the Berardenga that once belonged to the Cacciaconti, 
mighty nobles of boundless wealth and wide holdings 
whose territory extended for miles between Siena, Arezzo, 
and Trasimeno. Their descent was from that Conte 
Ranieri who came out of France in 865, sent by the em- 
peror to govern Siena. After the name of his son Berardo 
the great contea came to be called. 

By winding ways you approach San Giovanni d'Asso, 
finally crossing a gorge and arriving opposite the elevation 
it covers. Here you are confronted by a huge structure of 
dark red brick, a flat-roofed mass spreading in irregular 
angles over a great space. There is room within these 
walls to house a village, but if it is a fortress it is without 
the characteristics of a castle other than those of solidity 
and strength. At one point there is a row of five large 

> 222 




San Giovanni d'Asso. Church of San Pietro in Villore. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Gothic windows unrelated to anything else in its archi- 
tecture, but the pile, with its warm color, is pleasant to the 
eye, and its meaning is explained when one learns that it 
was built by Santa Maria della Scala of Siena in the days 
when anxious souls, about to set out upon the last journey, 
thought to gain the favor of Heaven by leaving their 
earthly possessions to the Church. So vast was the 
wealth of that great hospital and church in the fourteenth 
century that it required an establishment such as this of 
San Giovanni d'Asso to administer only one portion of the 
lands donated by the pious of the region and it remains 
one of the finest examples still in existence. 

Within the grancia as it was called there were not only 
capacious store-rooms but housing for artisans and laborers 
and proper apartments for the gastaldo who superintended 
all. First providing for use and security, beauty was not 
omitted, some of the apartments being finished with the 
elegance of a palazzo. With a position chosen for defence, 
together with the employment its various activities offered, 
it was natural that a village should in time grow up beside 
it and become a walled town, so that to-day San Giovanni 
is as closely built and as populous as other places in its 
neighborhood. In the small parish church there are a 
number of panels of the Sienese school, but perhaps the 
most attractive feature in the village is the little half- 
ruined chapel of San Pietro in Villore, standing quite 
detached with a background of fields and hills, while, to 
soften its decay, a friendly olive tree has disposed its bent 
trunk and gnarled branches before the broken fa9ade in 
caressing curves, and drawn across it a delicate curtain of 
leafy growth to complete the picture it makes. 

Highest of the villages we are visiting lies Montefollo- 
nico surmounting the rocky eminence from which she can 
command the Chiana basin as well as overlook the valley 
of the Orcia. Every turn of the ascending road reveals 

223 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

new and beautiful views of the country mapped below, 
and orchards and gardens have grown up outside Monte- 
follonico's walls and smile at her threatening defences. 
She is as old as the Romans, as old as the Etruscans, and 
in her mediaeval period was girdled with double walls, 
one line of which is quite complete, together with her three 
massive gates, the western one especially pictorial. As 
she stands there she represents the perfect type of Tuscan 
military art in the Middle Ages, porta and anteporte, 
sentinel tower and all, and now the noise of battle and 
siege is long past; everything warlike has departed and 
peaceful shepherds and tillers of the soil inhabit the little 
gray houses on the scantly populated streets. There is a 
simple and beautiful pieve and the church of San Sigis- 
mondo possesses one of Neroccio's exquisite madonnas. 
I blush to confess that the domestic quarters of the absent 
priest underwent a most unseemly rummaging on my 
account by an assiduous peasant who in spite of remon- 
strance insisted on obliging me by a search for concealed 
canvases. He did produce from certain crannies and 
cupboards one or two small pictures which had the merit 
of apparent antiquity but no other. 

Strangers seldom call at Montefollonico, yet their ap- 
pearance evokes no ill-mannered curiosity; on the con- 
trary, a pleasant friendliness, and the air of the place is 
that of a pastoral people accidentally lodged in the scene 
of a martial past whose resounding echoes died centuries 
ago. It is hard to convey the charm of it, but it is there 
to reward the wanderer who cares for its beauty and its 
memories. 

From Montefollonico it is not far to Montisi, lying in a 
garden-like nest among the hilltops, surrounded by silvery 
olives here and there broken by the dark column of a 
cypress. Montisi may be small but it is entered between 
big> dignified buildings, a pillared loggia on the left, a 

224 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

stately entrance to the castle court on the right, with a 
glimpse of an arched fa9ade, and, still farther, a high but 
much restored tower. Beyond these it climbs a little 
hill and has its own view of all the loveliness of the sur- 
rounding mountains and valleys. 

Like the other towns among these hills it has its roots 
in a profound antiquity, for all this ground is sown with 
reUcs of ancient Etruria. In later times it belonged, as 
we have said, to that branch of the fierce Berardenga 
stock that bore such warlike names as Cacciaconti, Caccia- 
guerra, Spadalonga, Spadacorta, etc. 

These famiHes virtually ruled supreme in their various 
castles in different parts of the neighboring hills, holding 
that they owed allegiance to no man save the distant em- 
peror, while Siena, still a bishopric, was striving toward 
liberty and the communal form of government, and claim- 
ing authority over the territory they occupied. This 
claim the Cacciaconti, who had "encastled her borders,'* 
vigorously denied. They represented her greatest danger 
and the principal obstacle to bringing the country under 
her control and against them the citizens of Siena early 
directed their efforts. In 1168 they took counsel together 
and decided to attack Asciano as being the nearest and 
most threatening of the Cacciaconti strongholds. After a 
brief resistance Ildibrandino, the head of the family, was 
obliged to capitulate and it must have been with a bad 
grace that he perforce announced publicly that he and his 
wife Gisla, willingly, for their own honor and for love of 
Siena, gave their town of Asciano to that city, and agreed 
to do homage for the same thereafter. 

Ildibrandino's subsequent conduct, according to the 
ancient archives, showed him "Httle sincere toward the 
republic," for no sooner had he feigned submission than he 
began secretly to plot with Siena's enemy, the Bishop of 
Arezzo, for support in throwing off the allegiance he had 

225 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

just sworn, and Siena was too busy to take active measures 
against him, being again at war with Florence. There 
were battles also between the Pope and the Emperor, and 
thus several disturbed years passed, there being added to 
wars and rumors of wars, signs and portents of a character 
to terrify the stoutest heart. For example, as Fra An- 
tonino writes, "the year 1195 was a prodigious one for 
there were fearsome tempests of the air, thunder, rain, and 
lightning of the most horrible the memory of man records. 
With all this there fell from heaven hailstones as large as 
eggs, that tore and broke down trees and vines and even 
sorely harmed men. Also ravens and other great birds 
were seen flying about with lighted coals in their beaks, 
scattering them abroad and sowing them upon the roofs of 
houses." 

Nevertheless, in spite of all this, in the following year 
the Sienese felt themselves strong enough to attack the 
rebellious Cacciaconti again, and they decided this time 
to assemble an army sufficiently strong to punish them and 
compel obedience. This force was to be placed under a 
valorous captain and provided with abundant food, ma- 
chines for battering down walls, and all the other mighty 
engines of war that the twelfth century knew. 

When news of these ominous preparations reached the 
ears of the Cacciaconti they had a hasty family conference 
and agreed that they had not men enough to stand against 
Siena, and therefore it was better to come to terms than 
to fight with the certainty of being overcome. To do 
homage to Siena for their holdings — to humble themselves 
before the base rabble of a town — was an intolerable 
humiliation, yet for the moment there was no other way, 
and Siena was sure to be in trouble with her various ene- 
mies before long, and oaths were things that could be 
broken. They sent word that if safe conduct was assured 
them they would present themselves in that city forth- 

226 




^lontisi. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

with, and this was promptly given. So the Cacciaconti 
lords came down from their respective eagles* nests, black 
and scowling, we may be sure, and traveled to Siena, 
Ildibrandino, Bernardo, Rinaldo, Tancredi, Ranieri, and 
there in open assembly at the church of San Pellegrino, 
before the consuls of the people, they took the oath of 
fidelity to the republic for themselves and their heirs for- 
ever, with the promise to live in Siena for three months of 
the year and to pay a tribute of five hundred lire. For 
Montisi in particular they were to offer a wax candle of 
six pounds' weight every summer on the festival of Santa 
Maria d'Agosto. 

It was a very solemn and binding ceremony but it did 
not eternally cement the relations between Siena and her 
newly sworn subjects. The Cacciaconti went their way 
and rebelled as often as ever. Whenever they could safely 
do so they threw off allegiance and refused tribute and 
they got the protection of the Emperor Otto IV (which, 
however, was more documentary than actual) as an aid in 
defying Siena. At last, in I2i3,they were forced to submit 
again and to renew their vows, the Lord of Montisi binding 
himself separately and specially to protect the men of 
Siena wherever he encountered them, and not to oppress 
them with road tolls and other grievous demands. 

After this the unruly Cacciaconti gradually reconciled 
themselves to their fate and in time became good citizens 
of the city they had so long resisted. One Ildibrandino 
of Montisi even became a podestdt and is praised for his 
admirable persuasive arguments in favor of peaceful 
negotiation and submission to rightful authority, whereby 
he quelled disturbances at home and established peace 
abroad. Another of the family, quite different in charac- 
ter, is referred to by Dante as belonging to that joyous 
crew called the Brigata Godereccia, a band of twelve 
youths of wealthy families who agreed to combine their 

227 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

fortunes and dwelt together in a magnificent palace in 
Siena, merrymaking and carousing night and day. They 
gave glorious feasts and threw the gold and silver vessels 
out of the windows afterward. No doubt this particular 
Cacciaconte ruffled it with the best, for we are told all his 
broad vineyards and woodlands passed out of his hands. 
B ^fore the end of a year the spendthrift youths were penni- 
less and the Brigata broke up. 

In the Guelf and GhibelHne battles of those days 
Montisi suffered greatly, being taken and retaken by the 
warring parties, but by the end of the thirteenth century 
the town came into the possession of the Spedale della 
Scala of Siena, through the testament of one Simone 
Cacciaconte, who dying at the age of twenty-nine, after a 
short but agitated career, left his estate to that great 
hospital. The fortifications were now repaired, and a new 
castle built, though not upon the site of the old one, and 
Pecci enthusiastically describes it as "a splendid fortress 
after the fashion of a palace, with towers, gates, and draw- 
bridge, arcaded within and having a beautiful bricked 
cistern; a moat also and everything to be desired to render 
it unconquerable. And, furthermore, it contains chambers 
and vaults for grain, wine, and other stores." This is the 
building we see to-day. 

In the parish church there is an altarpiece by Neroccio, 
the Madonna and Child with four saints, a very beautiful 
work though sadly injured by long neglect. It would be 
repayment for a long journey if one needed any compensa- 
tion but the joys to be had by the way. 



228 




* ■ A»^ ..A. 'ff^\ 






MoNTEMERANO 



CHAPTER XIV 

MONTELIFRE — ^TrEQUANDA — MaNCIANO 

MoNTEMERANO SaTURNIA — SoVANA 

OUNDING the spur of a hill a few min- 
utes after leaving Montisi a little castle 
comes unexpectedly into view, or rather 
hardly more than the meagre fragment 
of a castle to which is attached what is 
left of a villa. It is Montelifre, a 
small trecento fortress destroyed by the 
Medici artillery when Cosimo took it. 
It is a harsh ruin very unlike those 
that underwent a more gradual change and dissolution. 
Huge rents are torn in the high flat wall that confronts 
you as you approach, and beyond lie heaps of fallen stone, 
while still farther a stark tower rears itself against the 
sky. Nowhere has a vine or shrub taken root, no soften- 
ing bit of verdure lends a cloak to cover its nakedness. 
Montelifre might have met its fate within a few years 

229 




BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

instead of a few hundred for all that nature has done to 
soften its decay. Who can guess what legitimate bom- 
bardments the brave little place had withstood before 
that last unfair surprise, what salutes of burning pitch, 
what attacks of arbalist and mangonel, what onslaughts of 
a score of fierce warriors at once, from the top of a little 
turret on wheels trundled against the walls; and then, 
having resisted so long, to perish all at once amid nothing 
less than the thunder and lightning of the skies harnessed 
in gunpowder and directed by the hand of man ! 

As early as the beginning of the fourteenth century it 
was the property of the Martinozzi, a family of ancient 
and honorable mention in Sienese history, and to that 
name it still belongs together with the cultivated slopes 
that surround it. In the roots of the castle on the steep 
eastward side much space has been rescued, and pleasant 
suites of rooms exist there which are used by the family. 
Two or three portraits upon those walls gaze down out of 
the past to awaken curiosity and interest, especially that 
of a certain Isabella who looks a spoiled beauty and about 
whom a shadowy story lurks that refuses to come into the 
light. 

Leaving Montelifre it is but three miles to Trequanda, 
another one of the little neighborhood of towns upon these 
hills. From a distance its outline describes an oval 
against the slope it lies upon and it looks a very centre of 
thrifty cultivation among haycocks, fruit trees, and dotted 
farmhouses. On a nearer approach it is to be seen that 
the ground it covers is not low but rises to a proper eleva- 
tion for the foundation of its great brooding castle which 
rests there, long and level but for the big round tower, and 
that, too, has been reduced and flattened. Passing through 
the gate the small piazza is close by and the castle court 
gives upon it. When I visited it I was at once taken in 
charge by four of its kindly citizens and one of them, the 

230 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Cavaliere C, offered with true Tuscan hospitality to show 
me his garden, his apartments in the castle, and his 
*' Bella vista." There was a well in his courtyard and the 
greenery of vines and potted plants gave a pretty habi- 
table touch. The interior of the building has been entirely 
tamed to domestic uses, and the eager throwing open of 
shutters displayed many rooms, all furnished and deco- 
rated in the modern manner but all unused. I do not know 
where in the unlimited spaces of such a building the 
cavaliere's bachelor quarters may have been hidden, for I 
was shown only the portions that were a matter of pride 
with him, the bare, uninhabited air of which it was im- 
possible to grow enthusiastic over; but no effort was 
needed to praise the lovely prospect from his windows or 
the pleasant shade of his garden where I was pressed to 
accept a little refreshment, after which we visited the 
pretty Romanesque church of San Pietro on the opposite 
side of the piazza. Its facade is built of square blocks of 
gray stone and white disposed in chequered design; it has 
well-worn stone benches on either hand of the portal, an 
exterior staircase, and a graceful bell tower. Inside there 
is a polyptich by Giovanni di Paolo and an interesting 
fresco said to be by Bartolommeo da Miragna, in which the 
Virgin is attended by various holy men and women, 
among them Saint Catherine in a wondrously flowered 
robe. 

Upon the high altar is the sarcophagus of Beata Boni- 
zella, very splendid with carving and ornament. My 
kind hosts were surprised and a little shocked at my ignor- 
ance concerning this saint, so beloved and revered in that 
countryside, and I learned the legend of her life, so child- 
like in its simplicity and sweetness that I tell it here. She 
was of the many-branched and many-castled family of the 
Cacciaconti and it is said that in the burning of the 
archives of Arezzo in the fourteenth century there perished 

231 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

precious records of her, but treasured stones of her good- 
ness and her sanctity were handed down through genera- 
tions of those who in these remote hills cherished her 
memory, and to this day her festival is kept in Trequanda 
on the third Sunday in May, and many a little girl of the 
region is called Beata for the blessing of the name. After 
the death of her husband Naddo Piccolomini she gave her- 
self to a religious life, seeking the favor of God in the 
deepest humility and the most devoted piety, as well as 
the exercise of severest penances, until her death, which 
took place in 1300. But the rigor which she applied to 
herself she by no means used in her dealings with others, 
to whom she was tenderly indulgent. Her sympathy was 
ever ready, she gave herself and her riches to the needy, 
nursing the sick, causing beggars to bless her, and especially 
providing for all nuns whom she found in poverty; thus 
did she exchange those earthly possessions which she had 
inherited, but without thought of herself, into celestial 
treasure. 

When with the tears of the humble she was laid to sleep 
in the little church of Trequanda, three panels of marble 
closed the niche where her body waited for the resurrec- 
tion. So it remained for a time, but God was not contented 
that such a devoted servant of his should lie thus meekly, 
and the place of her rest be in time forgotten, and there- 
fore, in His wisdom, He made use of a swarm of bees to 
make His purpose known. The stones that closed the 
sepulchre of Beata Bonizella had not been well fitted or 
else with time had become loosened, and one day the 
people were surprised to see that bees were swarming 
over the marble panels and clustering in the crevices. 
They said to one another that behind those panels there 
must be honey and they decided to loosen them to make 
sure. When they had done this tKey marveled indeed, for 
there lay the body of Beata Bonizella beautiful and un- 

232 



I 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

corrupted as in life, while in those hands which had once 
carried gifts so lovingly and freely to the suffering of 
earth rested a comb of purest honey, placed there by the 
bees which now circled about the church but harmed no one. 

Beside Beata Bonizella lay the body of a little child, 
Guido, an infant nephew, who had been dear to her in life 
and who, dying, had been buried with her. It seemed 
that in death he had partaken of the holiness that per- 
vaded the saintly woman and like her he lay there fair 
and uncorrupted. The people gazed for a while speech- 
less upon the lovely vision before them and all the village 
came to marvel and to pray. Then they caused to be 
made a fitting sarcophagus for their blessed Bonizella and 
from that time they invoked her in every trouble of mind 
or distress of body, and many received solace of spirit and 
cure of flesh, as the votive offerings about the casket show 
to this day. 

Once only did one unworthy approach this sacred spot. 
There came a time when the land was cursed by war. 
Armed hordes trampled the fields of Trequanda and one 
day a band of turbulent soldiers entered the church. 
Seeing the beauty of the cherished coffin and ignorant of 
whom it contained they chose to open it. But when their 
eyes rested upon the loveliness therein enshrined their 
hearts were melted within them, and making the sign of 
the cross they began to pray as others had done before 
them. All but one and he, with a heart hardened by 
the love of gold, looked with envy upon a costly ring that 
rested upon the finger of Beata Bonizella. He looked, 
and presently he stretched forth a profane hand and 
roughly drew the ring from the finger it had never left 
before. In that same moment he was stricken with blind- 
ness. Horror at what he had done overcame him, deeply 
he repented his sin and trembling he groped for the sacred 
hand he had robbed, and finding it replaced the jewel he 

233 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

had stolen. With that act the sight he had lost was re- 
stored to him, and falling upon his knees he wept and im- 
plored forgiveness for his impiety. 

In the hill country near the southern boundary of 
Tuscany lies a neighborhood of towns unusually individual 
and picturesque, and one day in May I journeyed toward 
them from Orbetello. Two or three hours by motor 
through a pretty wooded country brings one, if incHned 
to loiter a bit by the way, to Manciano where it is easy to 
lunch. Manciano is not one of the places above referred 
to for, though clean and prosperous in appearance, it is 
only beautiful from a distance, being well placed on an 
isolated hill which has been leveled at the top to receive 
its high-shouldered, square castle, quite unimposing in 
form and tastelessly "restored." Not an opening any- 
where in those walls is left as it once was, the characteristic 
arch form is blotted out, every window is uncompromis- 
ingly spaced and squared, and as for the battlements which 
at present boast of their newness, they must surely differ 
sadly from what they replace. The building stands upon 
an unfrequented piazza containing a big, ungraceful foun- 
tain and is undeniably disappointing; but having thus 
disparaged the crown of Manciano, I must not fail to 
admit that the climb to it, by way of its steep, narrow 
streets lined with dark brown houses, is amply repayed 
by the great prospect that is spread out below it of endless 
wooded ravines and hill ridges and the distant sparkle of 
the sea. 

Once it was possible to see from here the towers of castles 
with famous names such as Scerpenna, Pelagone, and, 
most renowned of all, directly to the south, Montauto — 
the centre of endless struggles not only among families 
and communes but between nations, for the Spanish and 
the Saracens fought fiercely over the possession of it. 
Many times it was razed to the ground and many times 

234 




o 



mV^AY^'IN SOUTITERN TUSCANY 

rebuilt, but now it li'^s a heap of ruins and the woods are 
closing in upon it as the memory of its greatness fades 
away. 

So, not remaining many hours in Manciano, I betook 
myself to the road again and after a few miles came in 
sight of Montemerano, rising from sea-green waves of 
olive foliage that a frolic wind was tossing into spray of 
silver. 

The town has a sweet peaceable air as though it retained 
the heavy tower that forms its apex more as a decoration 
or a memorial than as a threat, having reached a sunny 
and unembittered old age, and this because it has known, 
like the best and finest tempered human beings, a life full 
of experience, of light and dark, of sun and storm. The 
Etruscan mystery, the Roman rigor, the mediaeval tur- 
moil, it knew them all, down to the time when Piccinino 
besieged and took it and was promptly driven out by 
Siena, who in turn was broken by the Medici. And now 
it rests upon its gentle hill and smiles at the traveler. At 
least this is the impression it gives as one approaches it in 
the happy sunlight of an afternoon in spring. When you 
have entered it, it may be Hke other little hill villages, but 
pass on till you stop before one dwelling having an ancient 
inscription which reads as follows: 

"This is the house of the Alfiere Fausto Grassi and his 
friends." There surely was a genial soul whose hospitality 
was wide. Let us hope he lived long and died peacefully 
as he deserved and as not too many lived and died in those 
days, and that with his good friends he represented the 
spirit of the town. 

The main street now opens out into an irregular little 
piazza on one side of which a row of arches stretches across 
to a building once the Church of the Assumption but 
changed by profane hands into a theatre, leaving as testi- 
mony of the transformation a tiny campanile perched upon 

235 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

a comer of the roof. But Montemerano does not lack a 
church. It is dedicated to San Giorgio and externally 
nothing could be more severe than its flattened gable, its 
two square windows, and its unornamented wooden door; 
very small it is, too, but it holds treasures. Once its 
walls bloomed with frescoes, since dishonored by a coat of 
limewash that here and there has dropped away and shows 
a bit of its earlier beauty. The haloed head of a saint 
emerges, Tobias and his angelic protector can be traced, 
and the Virgin and Child adored by one of those who 
brought gifts. A prelate consecrated to the service of that 
little sanctuary did once assert that the worshippers gazed 
too much at the pictured walls and so ordered them cov- 
ered to the good of his parishioners' souls. But however 
verifiable that may be, the frescoes are less important 
than the fine polyptich by Sano di Pietro, a treasure that 
one rejoices to find still existing in the place for which it was 
painted. Besides this there are other pictures, though 
these have been barbarously repainted, and a lovely cibo- 
rium, carved, gilded, and painted with saints and angels, 
together with vestments of rich old embroidery greatly 
cherished and shown with pride. But of all San Giorgio 
possesses, that which most evokes wonder and speculation 
is a panel which now leans against the wall in a comer of 
the sacristy. One recognizes that it is the half of an An- 
nunciation, the sweet, girlish figure of the Madonna, but 
without the angel, and it is evident that the panel has been 
used as a door. Time has gnawed away parts of it, the 
grooves of strap hinges are there, but, most curious of all, 
about a foot above the floor a round hole has been sawed 
out. Shall we listen to Signor Nicolosi's delightful story 
concerning it ? 

"Once upon a time there lived a parish priest and a cat. 
The priest was devoted to economy and the cat to mice. 
The two therefore lived together in the greatest harmony, 

236 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

each following his own inclination without in the least 
disturbing the other; indeed the cat's fondness for the 
chase spared the good priest in the matter of food and this 
pleased him greatly. One day it happened that the store- 
room door fairly dropped in pieces, it was so very old. 
It was a sad blow, for this important door protected pre- 
cious things. In the storeroom were kept the ripening 
fruit, the seasoning cheese, and the good yellow meal for 
wholesome bread. Besides it was a door sacred to but two 
beings in the world, the priest and his companion the cat. 
The cat was admitted through a round hole cut on pur- 
pose, and this for the best of reasons, since by means of his 
nightly prowling the stores were kept from harm. So the 
loss of the door was a serious matter, for money would be 
needed to replace it. But then what was one to do .? The 
storeroom could not be left open to all the world. The 
priest considered for some time and at last hit upon a 
happy idea. In the sacristy there was a fine old panel, so 
old that by this time it must be admirably seasoned. To 
be sure there was a very beautiful Madonna painted upon 
it, but what then ? It would make the door all the more 
attractive. Once already the panel had served the pur- 
pose of a door, the door of a sacred tabernacle instead 
of a pantry. But, after all, whose fault was it that the 
tabernacle had disappeared and that the picture happened 
to be that of the Madonna.'' And why, now that her 
sacred function no longer required her, should she not 
be serving him, a needy priest ? So the panel was sawed, 
fitted, and nailed into a solid door, not forgetting to pierce 
in it a commodious hole for the faithful cat. 

"And this is why the slender Madonna with her shy 
expression and timid gesture finds herself far from the 
angel who was announcing to her the great event. For 
the panel now leans against the wall in a comer of the 
sacristy, returned to it by a parish priest less practical 

237 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

than his predecessor, and the meek Madonna seems to 
wait in her humiHty and resignation with the hope that 
she may sometime be called to a better fate." 

It is but a short distance fromMontemeranotoSatumia, 
ancient Etruscan city of august name and memory. It 
is built upon a gently rising, tabled hill, and its great 
enclosure of walls, constructed of yellow travertine but 
lowered now in height and adorned with ivy and sturdy 
shrubs, holds the town, or rather the site of it, as in a 
shallow cup. From a distance only the stump of a tower 
shows above the encircling ramparts, one might be ap- 
proaching the empty shell of what was once a populous 
town. Saturnia has no narrow streets, no tall crowded 
houses, no remains of architectural beauty. Its few 
scattered dwellings and its wide empty piazza are all open 
to the wind and sunshine. Between this poor fragment 
of what once existed and the city wall lie acres of grain, 
of grass, and of blank, stony ground. At the entrance a 
tract of wall shows those gigantic blocks fitted without 
mortar, that remain to us from the Etruscan builders. 

In the procession of the centuries the place has come 
near to annihilation so many times that it is a matter for 
wonder any vestige of it remains to mark the spot. After 
its Etruscan period the Romans colonized it, and later 
themselves devastated it during the wars of Marius and 
Sulla (88 B. C). The Saracens in turn destroyed it, it 
suffered at the hands of the Longobards, yet it raised its 
head again, as part of the Aldobrandeschi contea, till in 
1299 Siena sacked and burned it, after some particular 
outrage perpetrated by the people of Margherita Aldo- 
brandeschi who for a time made it her residence. After 
this, for some thirty years its ruins sheltered a den of 
brigands, till finding this insupportable the republic de- 
cided to send a force and drive out the assassins. The 
castle was then repaired and the walls rebuilt. After 

238 



The Madonna of Montemerano. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

that effort history has little to say of it as it suffered the 
decline of all the rest of the fever-stricken Maremma. 

Wandering over the fields among flowers and wild 
shrubs to trace the extent of the walls one finds the circle 
nearly complete, and discovers on the side toward the 
river certain scarped rocks that added strength to the for- 
tifications. Beyond the walls is a thin cultivation and 
in the valley below, clouds of white steam show the pres- 
ence of sulphur springs. The few inhabitants of the town 
are mostly shepherds and herders, and by reason of this, 
once in the year, on the sixth of May, Saturnia wakens 
and finds itself still populous, for then the great branding 
day arrives and the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle 
resound through the valley as they wind along the roads 
and collect within its boundaries. Wild is the mirth, 
daring feats are performed, and the day finishes with a 
rather boisterous festa and profuse libations. Who knows 
but those black-haired, wandering Pelasgi, the phantom 
race that antedated the Etruscans, look down and smile 
approval of this pastoral revel ? 

In the confines of the castle there is a garden with a 
locked gate. Many terra-cotta jars are preserved here 
that have been disinterred on the spot, and of Roman re- 
mains there are two pedestals of marble with long Latin 
inscriptions, besides many lesser discoveries, capitals of 
colunms, marble slabs, and the like. It has been the cus- 
tom to incorporate such things in humble houses built 
nearest the place where they were unearthed. One in- 
habitant showed me a panel bearing heads in high relief. 
He remembered as a child seeing it exhumed and built into 
the wall of the house where it now is. Hardly a man of 
the little group who accompanied us to inspect the sights 
but had a few antique coins in his pocket which he offered 
us as a gift or for sale. 

In the small parish church from whose exterior the pink 

239 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

plaster is dropping away, is a sweet, endearing picture, 
unspoiled by repainting, and shining in the dim light of 
the little sanctuary like a gentle star. The young Ma- 
donna holds the Holy Child upon her knee, the most 
charming of babies, with wonderfully curled golden hair 
and a little hand upraised in blessing. Upon one side the 
Magdalen with innocent, girlish face lifts with one finger 
the Hd of the ointment box, and upon the other stands 
Saint Sebastian; not this time is he the beautiful youth, 
but, black-haired and with a deeply lined face, he is lost 
in a sacred revery and entirely oblivious of the fifteen 
arrows with which he is pierced. Girolamo di Benevento 
is said to have painted this altarpiece for the place it oc- 
cupies and one can but mourn at its present desecration, 
for mother and child wear elaborate silver crowns and 
bead necklaces ruthlessly fastened to the face of the 
picture. 

It was late when I left Saturnia, gray twilight was set- 
tling over the ancient site and over the broad valley sown 
with the tombs of a forgotten people. Passing slowly 
along a low parapet I saw an old man still digging un- 
steadily among the clods in the bit of ground he was cul- 
tivating. Presently this remark floated over the wall; I 
say floated because it was neither loud nor insistent but 
was simply exhaled as the ruminations of the moment 
found expression: **I should like to smoke half a cigar 
this evening! " I stopped short and addressed the Sienese, 
my companion. 

"This time you must let me give something. That was 
not begging, it was just a remark overheard. Now how 
much may I give?" 

He smiled ironically as one understanding sophistry. 
"You may give him just two cents. That will get him 
half a cigar." 

The Sienese is jealous lest the independence of the Tuscan 

240 




a 

O 

c 

s 

in 

2 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

peasant be undermined. I called to the old man and he 
came to the wall, with just a touch of quizzical self-con- 
sciousness. The two cents was deposited in his hand 
and the beaming smile with which it was received ought 
to have melted the disciplinary heart of the Sienese. 

The only road to Sovana, the ancient Suana, leads north 
from Pitigliano over lonely hills and stony table-lands 
for some four miles. The condition of it tells one long 
before arriving what degree of poverty and abandonment 
must exist there. One takes a motor at the risk of ruin, 
a carriage driven at a walk progresses painfully, so that the 
wiser choice is to make the journey on foot or by means of 
a horse. From the summit of the last hill you look down 
upon the town and while gradually descending and ob- 
serving its position, marvel that Sovana so small and so 
poorly placed for resistance should have been able to de- 
fend itself with such obstinacy. 

Two brooks in their hollowed beds enclose it and a little 
bridge leads to the city gate. Above this the riven tower 
of the castle lifts itself, and the town walls continuing from 
it rise now and again to their original height. Entering 
the archway — for the gate and portcullis are missing — one 
stands in "the city of Jeremiah," as Repetti calls it, a sad, 
ruinous little place, picturesque and not unclean but 
silent and almost empty. Strange vicissitudes, incredible 
contrasts has it seen in its day, and withal, it has never 
been absolutely abandoned. PHny mentions it. By 
turns it was Etruscan, Roman, Longobard, Carlovingian. 
It dared a brave but losing battle against the fierce Longo- 
bards, it defied the might of Frederic II, it was the cradle 
of the great Aldobrandeschi family. 

Half a century ago it reached its low water mark; it is 
said that at that time there were but sixty souls left alive 
in Sovana. The main thoroughfare, encumbered with 
earth and debris, grew up to nettles and the inhabitants, 

241 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

poisoned by malaria, despairing and apathetic, hardly 
attempted to till the fields. To-day the place is slowly 
reviving. Malaria is controlled, the streets are cleared of 
nettles, and the inhabitants, numbering about one hundred 
and seventy, work as best they can; yet it is hard to imagine 
that its decay was ever more evident than now. It was 
high noon as we stood in the gateway, yet no one was 
in sight excepting a girl who halted staring, while the 
goat she tended nibbled at the grass drooping from 
the wall of a roofless palace. As we proceeded two or 
three women emerged from their houses and one spoke 
to an old man sitting upon a doorstep. So purblind 
was he that he was but half conscious of anything but 
the warmth of the sun, a shaft of which he feebly sought 
to follow as it shifted. In a doorway a little girl nursed 
upon her knee a doll. Was there then a doll in Sovana? 
It was a brick with a strip of red cotton tied about it. 
The child smiled contentedly, yet her pitiful toy seemed 
a symbol of the poverty about her. 

Extending from the castle gate to the piazza, the street 
is paved with warm red brick laid in herring-bone pattern, 
here and there sunken and uneven but quite complete. 
Upon the piazza itself it is elaborately paneled and the 
design spreads in two indicated pathways, the left leading 
to the small Street of the Hebrews, which grazes the outer 
wall, while the right, somewhat choked after a while 
with brambles, conducts one to the cathedral. Upon the 
piazza face the Communal Palace, that of the podestdy 
two small churches, and the prison. Everything that 
once embellished the fronts of these buildings — mouldings, 
torch sockets, projections of every kind — has been stripped 
away and the arched doors and windows filled in. Upon 
the facade of the Palace of the Podesta one opening only 
has been left and that is wide to wind and weather; but 
certain of the ancient coats of arms still cling to the wall 

242 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and the stump of a column protrudes obliquely from a 
rough restoration at the base of the building. 

The tenth century cathedral, whose architecture indi- 
cates the progress from Longobard to Gothic, stands upon 
what must once have been a piazza of its own; the last 
building within the walls, but turns its back squarely 
upon Sovana in order to orient itself correctly. It has 
become a curious huddle of walls. From its low roof a 
tower rises a few feet, beginning as a rectangle and devel- 







L 



Sovana. Portal of the Cathedral 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

oping into an octagon. The exterior of the apse with its 
Gothic window has disappeared behind an addition used 
as a sacristy. The fa9ade has been destroyed and the 
main portal is upon the left side of the building. This 
displays a captivating collection of fragments assembled 
with no regard to relationship. On either side, at the base 
of the pilasters, is carved a doughty warrior riding a steed 
so abridged as to his back that there is barely room for the 
saddle. 

Within, the church is spacious, but dirty and neglected, 
the walls thickly coated with limewash which has dropped 
away here and there and shows the tufa construction 
underneath. The clustered pillars bear capitals in great 
variety of design, some foliated, some with Roman ox- 
heads, others with primitive symbolic combinations of 
men and animals; in one Adam and Eve grotesquely 
figure. Saint Mamiliano is honored here by a fourteenth 
century monument. His effigy upon the lid of his sar- 
cophagus is painfully flattened as though to meet the exigen- 
cies of a too contracted niche, but his folded hands are 
adorned with many rings. Tradition tells us that this 
saint fleeing from the persecution of Aurelian in the fourth 
century stopped in his travels to convert Sovana. 

But far more conspicuous than the monument of Saint 
Mamiliano is a modern inscription upon the right wall 
which urges the beholder to remember, that 
In Etruscan Sovana 

was born 

the great Hildebrand 

Saint Gregory VII. 

Thus does Sovana claim the powerful Pope whom the 

profane have nicknamed Saint Satan. 

But more interesting than the cathedral is the little 
church of Santa Maria, which stands upon the central 
piazza opposite the Palace of the Podesta. It is easily 

244 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

overlooked for its bare walls are without ecclesiastical 
features, and if it ever possessed any embellishments, 
nothing is now left but its small campanile a vela planted 
like a chimney in the centre of the roof. The attraction 
of Santa Maria is within, for it holds the only fragments 
of fresco remaining in Sovana, as well as an unusual and 
interesting altar, where the simplest of rectangular stone 
tables is so placed that the officiating priest faces his 
congregation, while over it is a baldachino richly carved. 
This altar has been treated with an offensive coat of parti- 
colored paint, but it does not quite blot out the intricate 
braided designs with which the surface is covered. 

Sunk in the wall on either side of the entrance are 
arched niches lined with frescoes of the Sienese school, 
sadly injured by repainting, but charming still. In one, 
the Madonna adoring the Child upon her knees is attended 
by Saint Barbara and Saint Lucy; and upon the concave 
of the opening are Saint Mamiliano and Saint Sebastian. 
The other niche frames a crucifixion between Saint An- 
thony and Saint Lawrence; and upon the concave. Saint 
Roch and Saint Sebastian — the latter represented as a 
pretty golden-haired boy; and though partly obliterated, 
still lovely in color and graceful in attitude. Saint Roch 
is in cloak, and tunic of green and rose, the only time I 
remember to have seen him portrayed as a beautiful youth 
instead of a care-worn man. Upon the step of the Ma- 
donna's throne is the date: 

A. D. N. CCCCVIII di XX diceb. 
and below the inscription : — 
queste figure affatte fare Giovanni de Valentino P. suo patre. 

Under the other fresco is inscribed : — 

queste figure a fatte fare Giovanni di Pietro 
followed by the date 15 17, and another line which Is 
illegible. 

High upon the right wall of the church is a partly effaced 

24s 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

fresco, representing the seated figure of a woman, of heroic 
size, supporting a great crucifix which she holds nearly 
upright, resting it upon the ground beside her. The face 
of the figure is not distinguishable but the body and draped 
head suggest the Madonna. 

If we turn to the mediaeval history of Sovana we find it 
obscure by reason of the scarcity of early records. The 
unhappy town so frequently suffered siege and sack that 
there was more than common destruction of public docu- 
ments. We know that as a bishopric it existed before 
the sixth century and that the Aldobrandeschi were estab- 
lished there in the eighth. By the middle of the twelfth 
century the family had reached the dignity of counts 
palatine. Under these counts Sovana reached the cul- 
mination of her prosperity in the following century, as the 
capital of the still undivided contea which extended from 
Monte Amiata to the sea and southward toward Rome. 

In 1267 the famous Conte Rosso still ruled it and in the 
pageantry accompanying the wedding of his daughter 
Margherita we see the symbol of its climax. The bride- 
groom was Guy de Montfort, who, as will be remembered, 
was the son of Simon de Montfort, that "flower of all 
chivalry," who coming from France in the reign of King 
Henry III of England became Earl of Leicester. Having 
led the barons against the King, he was taken prisoner 
and beheaded. Guy, his son, fled to France where he 
joined Charles of Anjou and went with him on his expedi- 
tion to Italy and with whose success there it is said he had 
much to do. After the death of Manfred, Charles of 
Anjou as King of Naples created De Montfort his vicar 
general in Tuscany and it was at this time that he asked 
for and obtained the hand of Margherita. 

Standing in the midst of Sovana's present desolation it 
is hard to reconstruct in one's imagination the scene of 
that pictorial event, but Signor Nicolosi thus evokes a 

246 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

vision of the past when "Sovana in the flower of her mag- 
nificence, on that long-ago dayof April, celebrated the bridal 
of Margherita Aldobrandeschi. From the fortress, for- 
midable but superb, issued the nuptial cortege, advancing 
between the dividing crowds of the joyous populace, 
with the blare of trumpets, the waving of banners, the 
fluttering of gorgeous draperies from every window, under 
a rain of roses with which the girlhood of Sovana, the 
companions of the golden-haired Margherita, strewed 
the ground before her. Cavaliers of the Angevin nobility 
clad with foreign elegance and displaying the last refine- 
ments of gallantry came in the train of the bridegroom, 
to render homage to the famed Conte Rosso and his 
beautiful daughter and mixed with the lords of the Marem- 
ma, ruder, more virile, but not less sumptuous. 

"There came also other Aldobrandeschi comprising all 
the ramifications of the family, forgetting for the day all 
discord and controversy. Besides these were many a 
warrior and prelate. Here were victors over Manfred at 
Benevento, defenders of Sovana at the imperial siege, 
veterans grown old in harness, in the wake of the red 
lion of the Aldobrandeschi or beneath Montfort's standard 
of the golden swords, all mingling in an acclaiming multi- 
tude. In the midst of a throng of noble youths bearing 
the ensign of the scarlet lily, Giannozzo degli Adimari, 
defender of the Guelf cause — vindicator at Colle, of the 
slaughter of Montaperti — represented the august com- 
mune of Florence. Among a white cloud of clergy came 
David, Bishop of Sovana, lending the dignity of the papacy 
to the consecration of the marriage and Azzo, Bishop of 
Grosseto, sent by that city out of gratitude to the noble 
and ancient house of Aldobrandeschi; and among all 
this radiance of color, this splendor of gold and brocade, 
shone the blonde loveliness of Margherita the Pearl of 
Sovana — Sovana the powerful, the opulent, the glorious." 

247 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




The Piazza of Sovana 

Dazzling was the spectacle, auspicious every prospect, 
yet this marriage was but a brief episode in the life of the 
bride. Her husband was almost at once called from her 
side to fight the battles of Charles of Anjou, his absence 
was prolonged and before he was released to return to her 
a tragedy was enacted that resulted in their final separa- 
tion. Guy de Montfort had never ceased to nurse the 
hope of avenging his father's death upon the royal house 
of England, and suddenly an occasion presented itself. 
At Viterbo in 1271 there assembled a concourse of princes 
and prelates for the election of a pope to succeed Clement 
VI. In this company came Guy de Montfort and also 
Prince Henry, nephew of King Henry III of England. 
Concealing his scheme, De Montfort kept a smooth ex- 
terior, mingled with the crowd, and waited for his oppor- 

248 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

tunity. It came when high mass was being celebrated in a 
church close to the papal palace. Such sacred places 
were popular for a planned assassination in those days. 
He singled out his victim, took up his position, and waited. 

With devout invocation, with swelling chant, amid frag- 
rant clouds from swinging censers the high ceremony 
proceeded till, at that most solemn moment — the elevation 
of the Host — ^when every head was bowed, De Montfort 
sprang upon the unconscious Prince Henry and stabbed 
him again and again. Then striking his dripping dagger 
into the air above his head he rushed toward the church 
door. There a knot of his friends met him, "Your father 
was dragged!" cried out one of them. De Montfort 
whirled about. So stricken was the congregation before 
this ghastly deed, this dreadful profanation, that for the 
moment not a member of it stirred to arrest the assassin. 
He darted back to his victim and grasping the dead prince 
by the hair dragged him to the door where flinging the 
body from him he rushed out and mounting his horse 
galloped away toward Pitigliano to secure the protection 
of his father-in-law. 

II Conte Rosso, between horror of the deed and fear of 
the English King's vengeance, unwillingly concealed his 
son-in-law for a few days but refused to be responsible for 
him longer. De Montfort, driven from this refuge, took 
leave of Margherita — history does not say with what meas- 
ure of grief on her side — and left Pitiglianofor the last time. 
For years he carried on the profession of a soldier but afar 
from Tuscany, excommunicated by the church and virtu- 
ally leading the life of a fugitive. At last, pardoned by a 
new pope and once more fighting under the banner of 
Charles of Anjou, he was taken prisoner by the Aragonese 
admiral Ruggiero di Loria and died miserably in a Sicilian 
prison. 

His Margherita had not waited to become a widow be- 

249 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

fore beginning the unbridled career of license upon which 
the chroniclers comment with such severity and which 
continued for the rest of her life, toward the end of which 
she was rebuked by the Church and the sentence of ex- 
communication pronounced upon her. That she had 
many husbands, acknowledged or morganatic, is estab- 
lished. Among them the shadowy figure of Nello Pannoc- 
chieschi appears and disappears, teasing one's curiosity 
but eluding it. "The Magnificent Knight" he was 
called, a courageous and lawless fighter, a ravager, a 
robber, and an assassin. Was Margherita married to him, 
or was she not.? In any case, there remains that tomb of 
the child Binduccio in the Httle church at Massa Maritti- 
ma, with its Latin inscription reading as follows: — 
Here lies Binduccio 
Son of Margherita, Countess Palatine 
and of 
Nello di Pietra Pannocchieschi 
A. D. 1300 

After the great days of those centuries began the 
gradual decline of Sovana. As if to symbolize it, the bell 
of the cathedral was carried off to Siena, where it now 
hangs among those in the tower of the cathedral. San 
Bernardino speaks of this transfer, so grievous to the 
people of the despoiled town. 

"Sovana," he says, "is the name of the greatest bell 
in our duomo of Siena, which rings every morning at 
sunrise, and it is so called because the Sienese took it 
away from the beautiful duomo of desolate Sovana." 

This humiliation aroused sorrow and resentment but 
by that time the people were helpless to resist encroach- 
ment, and the deterioration of the town advanced so 
rapidly that Siena herself was alarmed. It did not please 
her to lose outright even one among her subject cities. 
Perhaps she valued the proud record of Sovana, at all 

250 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

events she tried to stay its depopulation with encourage- 
ment and financial assistance but it was too late and 
Sovana gradually became the ruin we have already de- 
scribed. More than once colonization was attempted as a 
means of rehabihtation, the last time in 1745, when up- 
ward of fifty families were sent to settle there. The effort 
failed; Sovana had then long been cursed with the malaria 
that had invaded the whole Maremma and the hapless 
colonists appear to have succumbed to the unhappy condi- 
tions they found themselves in. Repetti makes the sig- 
nificant comment that ninety years later not a single 
descendant of one of these families was to be discovered in 
Sovana. 




251 




CHAPTER XV 

PiTIGLIANO 




OURNEYING eastward to reach Pitig- 
liano, we traverse a table-land stretching 
away for miles to distant lines of blue 
hills. As we proceed we find it curi- 
ously gashed at intervals by deep, leafy 
ravines, hiding streams of water in their 
depths. At length we arrive suddenly 
at the brink of such a ravine, one that 
has forked and widened, and we pause 
with a chasm at our feet, opposite a weird, unreal city grow- 
ing out of a great oval pedestal of tufa and fitted exactly to 
its rim. The clifF and the unbroken crown of houses out- 
lining it are of the same hue of mingled rust and umber. 
Not a touch of bright color varies that sombre homogene- 
ous mass; the balconies, the trellises that diversify other 
ramparts are wanting here. It looks immeasurably old, 
weary, and, withal, menacing. 

252 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Trying to distinguish between rock and building the 
eye is bewildered. Where does the one cease and the 
other begin? The tall houses in their unbroken ranks 
form but a continuation of the ledge they spring from; 
yet below them windows look out from the face of the 
cliff. The explanation is, that the stone has been hollowed 
to form additional lower stories and only choice and con- 
venience mark the limit. Sometimes a flat-sided mass of 
tufa stands erect, and the adjoining householder takes 
possession, hollows it, and adds a wing to his dwelling 
instead of a basement. Toward the west the town nar- 
rows like the prow of a ship and terminates in a gigantic 
cylindrical jut covered by a single grim building. Need- 
less to say the city has never been walled for its situation 
precludes any such necessity, resting as it does upon a 
ring of cliflFs. 

At the base of this circular foundation is a line of arched 
openings, curiously accenting the architectural character 
of the whole. Whether the caverns within were dwellings 
or sepulchres is a matter for discussion. From this point 
the ground drops quickly in a series of terraces of every 
irregular shape, planted with tiny vegetable beds, and 
honeycombed with smaller arches within which are stores 
of firewood, stabling for donkeys, and the like. All is 
bounded by a natural moat formed by the two little rivers, 
Melata and Lente, which surround it, and at its westerly 
extremity mingle their waters and proceed on their way 
to join the Santa Fiora and so find the sea. The whole 
forms a picture so unparalleled that as one's eyes dwell up- 
on it, it is hard to believe it other than a fantastic illusion. 
Yet if it be tangible, it is of such a spot that its savage 
history seems credible — ^the war of brother against brother, 
of father against son; the magnificence, the valor, the 
ferocity, the treachery, the unnamable crimes of its over- 
lords, the Orsini. 

253 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

Looking for access to the city leads to the discovery 
that on its eastern rampart it is attached as by a narrow 
isthmus to the mainland. By means of this you pass along 
a road hewn out of the rock which in some places rises 
fifty feet above it, to the portal of the city, which is entered 
between huge buttresses, through two gates and under a 
portcullis, and opens upon the lesser piazza. This is 
bounded upon its outer edge by a splendid arcade bearing 
the aqueduct. Beyond it is the main piazza on which 
stands the great Orsini castle which still shows the fine 
and severe outlines of its early form, and rears its Guelfic 
battlements as of yore; but its threatening character has 
been sadly tamed by a coat of plaster whose flat surface 
covers the rough stones of the construction, though 
the plaster in its turn has become old and many-tinted. 
The circumference of the original fortress is difficult to 
trace, changed and curtailed as it is. Houses have been 
packed inside its ancient boundary and portions of it in- 
corporated in them. The main entrance is reached from 
the piazza by means of an inclined plane guarded by a 
grotesque lion of antique and battered appearance. 
Within are two fine courts; in the first, a beautifully 
moulded door frame of white limestone has carved above 

" NICOLAUS HI URSINUS 

thus commemorating Niccolo the warrior, the greatest of 
his line. Ascending a short flight of steps the second and 
principal court is reached, rich with columns and pilasters, 
with arcaded staircases, heraldic travertine portal, and 
sculptured well-head. Here one finds the lion of the Aldo- 
brandeschi as well as the rose of the Orsini — that rose said 
to have sprung from a field of battle soaked with the life- 
blood of an early heroic ancestor. 

No descendant of that terrible and turbulent house 
dwells within its walls. The spirit of the place has under- 

254 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




gone a change, for it is now the Bishop's Palace and in his 
absence we were permitted to enter. The good bishop 
does not welcome luxury, nor does he encourage beauty. 
His rooms are bare to asceticism; there are many cruci- 
fixes, cheap religious prints lend the only adornment, and 
the hard, uncompromising furniture stands stiffly against 
the walls. An iron bed, a desk, and a few books in one 
room seemed to indicate a study, but nothing more cheer- 
less and uninhabited could be pictured. After we had left 
the Bishop's modest quarters, the kindly official of the 
household who had admitted us showed us other floors, 
full of resounding emptiness, while he threw open dusty 
shutters and exposed vast apartments of an ugliness so 
depressing that no words can express their dreariness. It 
is whispered that the coarse wash upon the walls covers 
frescoes of a character too florid to be tolerated by the 

255 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 






decorum that now reigns there. 
Having arrived at the top of the 
last staircase, we were glad to 
emerge upon a lofty terrace, to 
breathe fresh air, and to look 
down upon the conglomerated 
roofs of the building, prodigious 
in extent, rich in color, and 
weighted in many places, not 
with the usual rough stone or 
boulder, but with masses of an- 
tique copings and mouldings, 
reHcs of its earUer architecture. 
In all the castle there is but one 
ancient and significant thing re- 
maining. 

As we began to descend from 
the roof, I murmured a question, 
an answering light shone in the 
eye of our guide, and with a more 
animated step he led us to a round 
tower. Here was a curious little 
turret chamber lined with nearly 
obliterated frescoes, quaint and gay, and from it descended 
a circular staircase. At a certain point in the descent an 
obstruction appeared, a low wall built directly across it 
about waist-high, and below this only darkness, and the 
dim outline of a large opening. Was it really possible? 
Could this be the beginning of that famous underground 
passage, the sotteraneOy that led from Pitigliano to Sorano 
and which was large enough to ride through on horseback 
— that last refuge of the Orsini tyrants when they had 
taxed the forbearance of their people beyond endurance 
and were reduced to flight? Once the shapeless opening 
had a gate of incredible thickness and strength, and when 

256 




The Aldobrandeschi Lion 




Pitigliano. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

it had clanged behind the fugitive and been fastened, it 
was as firm as the surrounding wall and he was safe to 
make that strange torch-lighted transit. I looked at our 
companion. There was no doubt in his expression, his 
mind was as firmly confident of the existence of that 
mysterious gallery as of his own. It dealt with the 
thought of a hollowed passage seven miles in length with- 
out flinching. I must reluctantly confess that doubt has 
been thrown upon it, that the close bond between the two 
cities has been called merely a symbolic one; but for my 
part, having been assured of its reality by more than one 
respected citizen of Pitigliano, I choose to believe in it. 

Emerging upon the piazza again, the main thoroughfare 
of the city, none too wide, opens from the opposite side 
leading to the municipio and the cathedral. The latter 
rebuilt and daubed with whitewash is both dirty and 
uninteresting. Outside the door of the municipio, upon 
a heavy pillar about six feet high, covered with symbolic 
carving, the Orsini bear sits. Beyond the two main 
thoroughfares there is a network of narrow streets, pic- 
turesque, crooked, and unclean; there are more curious 
turns, more black holes, more arches complete, broken, or 
twisted, more breakneck descents than in any other town 
known to me. After a time one realizes that the fantastic 
impression comes partly from the adaptation of the very 
rock on which the city is planted. It rises up out of the 
pavement to form the foundation of a building; it juts 
forth between walls and is moulded into a bracket or 
an arch, and sometimes a huge mass suddenly projects 
itself in the midst of formal construction and is left there 
rebellious and undisciplined. Everywhere a too numerous 
population overflows for the boundaries of the town are 
immutably fixed. About one third are Jews formerly 
confined in their ghetto, but now living as they please 
with all the privileges of the other inhabitants. They 

257 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

have turned to agriculture, an occupation one hardly asso- 
ciates with that race; and with certain added virtues, have 
perhaps also acquired failings. 

"The Hebrews," said my friend, the Sienese, "used to 
live according to strict rule, but now — ^why they get as 
drunk as Christians!" He added that before the unifica- 
tion of Italy this place was a great smuggling post, being 
near the boundary between Tuscany and the States of the 
Church. 

The origin of Pitigliano reaches back to Roman and 
Etruscan times. But remains of the latter, such as still 
exist in the neighboring towns of Sovana and Saturnia, are 
not to be found here; and almost nothing of the Roman 
occupation, though a diverting tradition exists, which re- 
lates that a certain gentleman of fortune, Pitiglio by name, 
being in Rome, stole the golden crown from the Jove of 
the Campidoglio and flying with it to the north, founded 
this city, giving it his name. There are those who say 
it is he who is commemorated by a grotesque carving on 
the outer wall of the church of Santa Maria, which shows a 
person of a cheerful countenance whose either hand being 
extended at a right angle from his body, is being greedily 
swallowed by attendant dragons. 

The province underwent the vicissitudes of all Italy 
during its ruinous invasions, and from a period of fertility 
and prosperity, declined with the rest of the Maremma. 
When its authentic history begins — about the ninth cen- 
tury — it was governed by the famous Aldobrandeschi 
family, whose power waxed till, in the twelfth century, 
their rule as Counts of Santa Fiora extended from Monte 
Amiata west to Grosseto, and south beyond the borders of 
Tuscany. But, turbulent and quarrelsome, they warred 
with each other, and their lack of solidarity was one of the 
causes which led to their loss of sovereignty and the break- 
ing up of their great realm. It was their vaunt that they 

258 




Pitigliano. The Aqueduct. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

owned more fortified towns than there were days in the 
year, and Fra Filippo in his Book of Ensamples remarks 
that such was their conduct they furnished in the end a 
large contingent to the devil. Princely brigands and ma- 
rauders they were, and as they held the key to the two 
great southern highways, that by the shore and the great 
inland one, the Via Francigena, they could descend at will 
upon all travelers and exact what they pleased, till at last 
Siena curbed their intolerable lawlessness. 

At the fateful battle of Montaperti the famous Aldo- 
brandino il Conte Rosso, son of Guglielmo — '*il Gran 
Tosco" of Dante — found himself opposed by his cousin, 
Aldobrandino di Bonifazio. These two being the heads 
of the family and neither willing to submit to the other as 
paramount, a separation of territory was agreed upon a 
few years later, the River Albegna being roughly the line of 
partition and Aldobrandino di Bonifazio retained the title 
of Count of Santa Fiora and that portion to the north, 
while Aldobrandino il Conte Rosso took the cities of the 
south, Pitigliano, Sorano, Monte Vitozzo, and the rest. 
In this latter branch the male succession came to an end 
in the second generation, when il Conte Rosso left as his 
heir that daughter Margherita whose story has already 
been given. The Countess Margherita, although cele- 
brated for her many marriages, possessed at her death but 
one living child, a daughter. This daughter, Anastasia, 
was married in 1297 to Romano Orsini, and thus was the 
Orsini line brought in, which thereafter ruled for three 
hundred years. 

As early as the twelfth century there was an Orsini Pope, 
Celestine III, who raised his family to eminence. A 
hundred years later. Cardinal Giovanni Orsini, one of the 
great churchmen of history, was made Pope Nicholas III 
and through his influence the Orsini became the most 
powerful of the great Roman families, owning three strong 

259 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

fortresses in Rome including the Castle of Sant' Angelo, 
besides many houses on both sides of the Tiber. Romano 
Orsini was a nephew of this Pope, a condottierey brave but 
brutal. He embodied that reputation for caprice and 
cruelty which his posterity carried on through generations 
of outrage and violence. Other condottieri followed 
Romano, till in the fifteenth century Count Niccolo III 
gained fame throughout Italy. Celebrated for his crimes 
as well as his bravery, he was undoubtedly the most illus- 
trious member of his family. In that warlike age, scarcely 
was there an important battle in Italy where he did not 
command on one side or the other, distinguishing himself 
especially in the Venetian service. There is a grandiose 
monument to him in the Church of Santi Giovanni e 
Paolo in Venice, and another more beautiful and less pre- 
tentious in Brescia. 

Of his descendants in the following century, the history 
of Niccolo IV illustrates the characteristics of the family 
and of the time better, perhaps, than any other. 

Between the third Niccolo and his great grandson Nic- 
colo IV there had been two Orsini counts, both of them 
cruel, treacherous, and tyrannical. The second, who was 
Gian Francesco father of Niccolo IV, fell weakly under the 
influence of a plebeian mistress, Rosata Agostini, whose 
every caprice he indulged, and whose son Orso helped to 
complicate the succession and increase bloodshed at the 
death of his father. A few years sufficed to render Gian 
Francesco odious to the subjects whom he intolerably op- 
pressed. Meanwhile his heir Niccolo IV grown to man's 
estate, and following the soldierly profession of the family, 
was fighting in Germany under the emperor, Charles V, 
and growing ripe for the career in which as the next Count 
Orsini he became celebrated. Bruscalupi ruefully remarks 
of him in the above campaign: 

"In a combat at this time, Niccolo, amid prodigies of 

260 










^j-— . .->^-' 



Pitigliano. In the Court of the Orsini Castle. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




Orsini Palace. Doorway 



valor, was sorely wounded, but after a time recovered, and 
this was for us a profound misfortune. We shall now set 
forth actions of this same Niccolo which compel one to 
desire that he might have died in that encounter." 

Indeed while fighting the battles of all the world, the 
Orsini made time to be ever at war with each other; and 
Niccolo IV, though absent, contrived, through agents 
whom he kept in Pitigliano, to foment the discontent of 
the people to his own advantage. At last, in 1547, driven 
to desperation by the barbarities of Gian Francesco, they 
broke into open revolt and assaulted the castle. For 
hours they battered at the walls, and Gian Francesco, 
from loopholes above, gazed down upon the infuriated 
mass of human beings whom he had wantonly driven to 
this mad hatred. While he looked he trembled, and 

261 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

trembling he shrank back as he thought of the moment 
when the gates must give way, and of what would then 
inevitably follow. Silently he descended to the black 
opening of that subterranean passage which led to Sorano, 
and fled away into the night. The crowd, unconscious 
that the prey they were hunting had eluded them, at last 
burst in the gates and rushed into the castle. They surged 
through room after room searching for Gian Francesco, 
their wrath every moment growing hotter, till at length 
convinced that he had escaped their revenge, they fell 
upon the unfortunate Auditor of State and killed him, 
after which they wreaked their fury upon the family pos- 
sessions, destroying portraits, and burning all documents, 
public and private, which they could lay hands upon; and, 
still unsatisfied, attacked the family tombs, tearing to 
pieces the monument to Niccolo III. They then tied 
ropes to the stone lions at the foot of the great staircase 
and dragged them from their pedestals. The following 
day they declared Gian Francesco deposed and sent 
messages inviting Niccolo IV to return to Pitigliano and 
take his place. Their imaginations did not reach to the 
possibility that they might be making an unfortunate 
exchange. He came and was received with great rejoic- 
ings. 

During these proceedings Gian Francesco remained 
shut up in Sorano, but this position, only seven miles 
away, was quite too near for the peace of mind of his son 
Niccolo who proceeded secretly to corrupt certain impor- 
tant citizens of Sorano with presents and promises, besides 
winning over with gold the guard of the castle. Within a 
fortnight he was ready to dislodge his father. It was a 
frigid night of January and a dense mist covered Sorano. 
Gian Francesco, secure and comfortable, sat at a late supper 
with a party of friends. Breaking in upon their noisy 
enjoyment came the announcement by a terrified page 

262 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

that Niccolo with an armed band was close upon the castle. 
Gian Francesco sprang from his seat and shouted to the 
garrison. The corridors were empty, the gates open, the 
draw-bridge lowered, he was betrayed! As Niccolo en- 
tered triumphantly from the town, Gian Francesco 
slipped unattended from the north portal and hastened 
away through the thick darkness. After some hours, 
worn out, he ventured to ask at a farm house for a night's 
lodging; and in the early morning, cold and comfortless, 
he stole away over the wet fields and through the dripping 
woods, till he had made his way to the lonely castle of 
Monte Vitozzo where he took shelter. From here he sent 
numerous letters of complaint to potentates whom he 
endeavored to interest in reinstating him, while Niccolo 
despatched a like number justifying his course, which he 
explained was taken at the earnest solicitation of Pitigliano 
suffering under the cruelty and injustice of his father. 
To the correspondents of both it seemed the easier course 
to refrain from meddling in the affairs of either, and Nic- 
colo remained in possession. Aware that as a usurper he 
must strengthen his position, he promptly gave miHtary 
aid in quarters where it was politic to do so, and by a 
series of adroit manoeuvres, made it obligatory that he 
should be supported in return. He then turned his atten- 
tion to the improvement of the city. He added to the 
castle and strengthened the fortifications; and he built for 
himself a luxurious villa surrounded with wondrous gar- 
dens. 

On the opposite bank of the chasm which rings Pitiglia- 
no about, above the pretty cascade of the stream Prochio, 
which falls into it on the north, he chose a site for it. An 
elevated plateau Hes there, commanding a great view over 
the wide plain and the distant dome of Monte Amiata. 
Here the villa rose, very spacious and splendid, but now 
only to be traced by bits of wall built against by an humble 

263 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

farm house, and by a few broken pillars and arches half 
buried in the ground. Tradition tells us gardens of delight 
surrounded it; that of shaded alleys, of the murmur of 
fountains, of the fragrance of flowers, it lacked nothing; 
that from it stretched away a noble park which merged 
in woods where wild game abounded and hunting parties 
ranged. To-day of garden, park, and timber not a trace 
remains. Husbandmen till the ground once dark with 
forests and wild grasses wave over the site of villa and 
garden. Yet it is a sweet place, solitary but for the 
company of a few sheep, open to sun and breeze and sung 
to by the waters flowing at the foot of cliffs that bound it 
upon two sides. Just over the edge of these one makes 
discoveries. A pathway is cut into the face of the seamed 
masses of tufa, and, bordering it, among scented banks of 
wild thyme, there are seats disposed in semi-circular form, 
gracefully shaped and moulded. In this little roofless 
pavilion a group could rest and gaze out over the plain 
to the distant hills, or glance down upon the green tree- 
tops filling the depth below. But of all that still exists 
the most impressive objects are the colossal statues that 
were carved upon the spot, out of the living rock. The 
headless torso of one half-reclining figure still rests aloft 
upon a gigantic block of stone, seeming to brood over the 
portentous past, of which so little is left. Two others, 
prone among the herbage, corroded, stained with damp, 
patterned over with lichen, yet bear evidence to the heroic 
lines upon which all in this strange place was planned. 

But while Niccolo thus lavished riches upon his own 
aggrandisement, he took no pains to establish himself in 
the favor of the subjects who had invited him to rule over 
them. On the contrary, he oppressed them in new and 
ingenious ways, despoiling some, enriching others, and 
thus craftily stirring up discord and bitterness among 
them, for the purpose of forming a clique engaged to 

264 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

protect him. Indeed if there was a crime uncommitted 
by the earlier members of the family, Niccolo IV appears 
to have corrected the omission. Scarcely two years had 
passed before the people, heartily sick of his misrule, were 
conspiring to bring back their former tyrant. These 
intentions were discovered and those involved suflPered 
death or torture of a kind so terrible, that Niccolo con- 
sidered it calculated to discourage further insubordination. 

It now occurred to him that as Siena was keeping but a 
small garrison in Sorano, the opportunity was favorable 
for retaking it, which he did, and gave the unhappy city 
over to such destruction and pillage that it was left more 
desolate than can be described. He then turned, and with 
disarming magnanimity offered aid to Siena herself, at 
that time in the throes of the unhappy struggle with the 
emperor, Charles V, in which France and Spain took part. 

At the end of this war he was publicly thanked, called 
the liberator of Siena, and decorated with orders. This 
episode closed the enterprises he engaged in at a distance, 
and he returned to resume his usual methods at home. 
These included a form of princely brigandage, such as 
sending detachments of soldiers to capture flocks and 
herds beyond his own borders and an occasional plunder- 
ing expedition against a neighboring town. His people of 
Pitigliano also suffered more acutely as time went on, and 
especially were their feelings outraged by his treatment of 
their churches. These were robbed of sacred images or 
rudely taken over for his own use as storehouses and it is 
said he even caused balls to be given in one of them. 
His subjects had recourse to imploring all the Christian 
potentates in turn, to be released from his intolerable 
tyranny, but each one, immersed in his own affairs, re- 
mained unmoved. 

Nor could the Pope be roused by the most fervent pray- 
ers for deliverance, together with descriptions of the 

265 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

desecration of his churches, until suddenly startled by the 
discovery that he himself was suffering a money loss. 

Niccolo, with incredible effrontery, had not only estab- 
lished the manufacture of counterfeit coin in his own 
castle but was distributing it in the pontifical territory. 
The Pope now moved promptly, he seized Niccolo and 
threw him into the Castle of Sant* Angelo, where he lay 
for four months. Meantime Gian Francesco his father, 
living in squalid poverty in Rome, had never ceased his 
supplications both to Pope and Emperor that they should 
interfere in his behalf. 

Niccolo was brought forth and ordered to reconcile 
himself with his father. It was agreed that Niccolo 
should continue to rule but that he should settle a pension 
upon Gian Francesco for life. He therefore returned to 
Pitigliano but the townspeople were little satisfied. 
Hopeless of relief and driven to desperation, they began 
to consider ridding themselves of their tyrant by the only 
means that seemed left them. The count, watchful and 
suspicious, discovered that his life was in danger and deter- 
mined to take full revenge. He feigned entire ignorance 
that any disaffection existed, and shortly had it given out 
that he had been taken seriously ill. On the same day 
by one pretext or another he decoyed twenty of those he 
suspected into the castle. All was done so quietly that 
no one's attention had been attracted, until it was noticed 
that the drawbridge was up and the castle in a state of 
defence. The townspeople looked on in surprise and could 
see no reason for these unusual preparations. The follow- 
ing morning a dreadful spectacle met their eyes. Twenty 
heads were suspended upon the castle wall. A cry of 
horror went up, terror struck the hearts of those whose 
friends had been absent from home the night before. 
They flew to the piazza : there one recognized a father, one 
a brother, another a husband, another still a lover. Wails 

266 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and curses filled the air but the sufferers were helpless; 
orders had been given that at the first sign of rebellion 
the town should be swept by artillery. 

The dreadful day passed, the sun shone upon that row of 
ghastly heads, the grief and fury of the people drew them 
together, night came and they went to their homes to 
consult and to wait. Niccolo observed nothing that led 
him to consider with anything but satisfaction the lesson 
he had given, still prudence suggested to him that it might 
be well at this time to make a visit to Sorano, and at 
night, by means of the underground passage, he betook 
himself thither. He remained there till he judged it wise 
to return, but the people did not forget and their hatred 
was furtively fomented by the agents of the Medici, 
always hovering near, in waiting for the time when the 
domain of the Orsini might safely be taken over. 

At last the people of both towns came to a secret under- 
standing, those of the one being no less eager to drive out 
the tyrant than those of the other. They agreed upon 
the day and hour for rising, in whichever town Niccolo 
might be. He was in Sorano. At a given signal the 
streets were suddenly filled with a vengeful throng. A 
hoarse roar from numberless throats filled the air, swelling 
in waves ever louder and louder, that deep-throated bay- 
ing, ominous and terrible — the voice of a multitude crying 
out for blood. It rose to the mighty fortress sitting up 
above Sorano like a bird of prey. It reached the ears of 
Niccolo, amazed and unprepared. 

*'Palle! Palle! Death to Niccolo ! " 

His first impulse was rage and resistance, but his own sol- 
diers in Sorano had forsaken him and barely saving his 
life, he fled Hke other Orsini before him, to that final 
refuge, Monte Vitozzo. 

The leaders now offered to place themselves under the 
protection of Florence, and Cosimo lost no time in des- 

267 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

patching his emissary, Francesco Vinta, to direct the 
negotiations. In a letter which he sent back Vinta de- 
scribes his reception in Pitigliano: 

"At a half-mile distance from the town I was met by a 
company of citizens on horseback, and after many em- 
braces and handsome and gracious greetings, I entered 
the streets, where were soldiers orderly drawn up as I 
passed between. The women filled the doors and windows 
and even the roofs all crying out continually with one 
voice, *Palle! Palle ! Duca!* The head men of the 
city dismounted from their horses and received me un- 
covered, and after, they led my horse through the most 
important streets and for pure content the women knelt 
and wept as we passed by. Also the bells rang and the 
cannon were fired." 

But other eyes than those of the Medici were fixed upon 
Pitigliano. The valuable contea was desired in many 
quarters. Over the shoulders of Cosimo looked a pope 
and an emperor. Medici protection they felt might easily 
be turned into Medici possession, and Cosimo with a 
sigh saw that the time was not yet ripe. The three poten- 
tates came to a compromise which was to fetch Gian 
Francesco and prop him for a second time upon the un- 
stable chair of state. This was done but with such condi- 
tions as left him hardly more than a vassal of Cosimo. 
While these events were taking place in Pitigliano, 
Niccolo contrived to creep into Sorano and intrench him- 
self there anew, and thus prepare an uneasy future for his 
father. Gian Francesco now associated with himself his 
illegitimate son Orso and a new series of plots, intrigues, 
and treacheries began. Niccolo attempted to murder his 
father. Failing this, he essayed getting possession of the 
citadel through bribing the garrison. This Orso discov- 
ered in time and Niccolo, who headed the party, escaping 
with his own life, beheld his band of followers blown to 

268 




Pitigliano. Vicolo Venezia. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

atoms before his eyes through a mine sprung by Orso. 
Thus with varying fortunes, Niccolo aided by the Pope 
and Orso by Cosimo, a year or two passed, till Gian 
Francesco, wearied out, retired for the last time to Rome 
and died there, leaving Orso in his place. 

Strife between the brothers now raged more fiercely 
than ever and this persisted even after an imperial mandate 
had recognized Niccolo as the legitimate heir. Niccolo 
therefore ruled in Sorano, while Orso refusing to resign 
in his brother's favor kept possession of Pitigliano, secretly 
sustained by the Medici. Orso was a typical Orsini and 
the close of his life was characteristically dramatic. It 
happened that in the summer of 1557 Prince Famese 
journeyed from Florence to Pitigliano to pay a visit to 
Orso. As the latter was absent the countess graciously 
received the prince and invited him to remain till her hus- 
band should return. Prince Famese accordingly waited 
for some five days, but as at the end of that time Orso had 
not reached home, he took leave of the countess and went 
on his way. 

Orso appeared soon after, was told of the visit, and 
convinced himself that his wife, Isabella, of whom he was 
inordinately jealous, must have accepted improper atten- 
tions from the prince. First pondering for a time, he 
sent messengers after the guest, begging him to return 
and adding that he was preparing a great boar hunt in his 
honor. Prince Farnese, suspecting nothing, retraced his 
steps and was welcomed with the utmost affability. The 
boar hunt took place, but the prince did not return from it. 
Orso now watched his wife as assiduously as was consistent 
with his devoting much time to a mistress whom he kept 
in Sorano. Returning one morning, after having spent 
the night there, he met his wife upon the little bridge over 
the stream, Prochio, and greeted her with : 

"What has been going on in Pitigliano?" 

269 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

The lady having no news to report innocently replied, 
**0h, much the same thing as in Sorano, I suppose." 
The husband was infuriated at what he chose to consider 
an insolent avowal of retaliation on her part. He fell upon 
her, strangled her and threw her body over the bridge into • 
the torrent below. The spot bears to this day the lugu- 
brious name which connects it with that crime, Poggio 
Strozzone, signifying the Hill of the mighty Strangler. 

In the same year Cosimo decided that to abandon Orso 
and favor Niccolo would be the more advantageous course 
for himself; he therefore invented a pretext to summon 
Orso to Florence where he detained him. Fate now 
cleared the path for Niccolo. The Duke Farnese had not 
forgotten the murder of his son nor his own fixed purpose 
of revenge. Orso in Pitigliano was difficult to reach, Orso 
in Florence was ready to his hand. One night as Orso was 
crossing the Ponte Vecchio he was set upon and mortally 
wounded. A few days later he died. 

Toward the close of Niccolo's long life, history came 
near to repeating itself. His only son, Alessandro, con- 
sidering that his turn to rule was being unconscionably 
postponed, adopted the simple and direct method of at- 
tempting to assassinate his father. Not succeeding, he 
tried to capture Pitigliano, but, a second time unsuc- 
cessful, fled to Florence and appealed to the Medici. 
They, with their habitual craft, accepted the role of media- 
tors and, supported by them, he advanced upon his father 
who in his turn fled, taking refuge in Monte Vitozzo. 
Negotiations resulted in a reconciliation of much the same 
satirical character as that of a generation previous. Ales- 
sandro elaborately apologized to his father, then settled a 
pension upon him and ruled in his stead, while Niccolo 
retired to Florence where he died four years later. 

As for Alessandro he had not even the virtues of his 
ancestors partly to balance his vices. He lived a life of 

270 




Pitigliano. Via Sovana. 



^ 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

self-indulgence with the most ostentatious show of luxury 
and bankrupted his patrimony so that eventually he was 
obliged to submit to the sale of it and after protracted 
bargaining, it passed definitely into the hands of the 
Medici, the destiny which had so long awaited it. 

A monstrous and gory history this, but the paving-stones 
of Pitigliano show no blood stains now, and the inhabitants 
do not bear evidence of being depressed by the tragedies 
of the past. Old men sit gossiping by the public fountain 
and prankish little boys scamper about the open spaces of 
the piazza. I 

Old women, let it be said, are not to be found in the 
company of the men of their generation. They are much 
too occupied at home, it being their business as grand- 
mothers to tend the younger children while the mothers 
are away at work. Thus life goes on cheerfully enough 
and the arrival of the diligence is the most exciting event 
of the day, as it rattles into the town and draws up before 
the Albergo della Posta opposite the Castle. This alhergo 
can be recommended for excellent food. It is one of those 
households where the mother cooks, the daughter waits 
upon guests, and the father fills all other departments. 

In this way the Pieroni family is able to conduct its 
hostelry without the help of outsiders other than two 
stalwart porters, who attend solely to the luggage of 
customers. These porters are of the female sex and aged 
respectively sixteen and nineteen. By some occult 
method of intelligence they appear in the piazza simultane- 
ously with any vehicle whose occupants show the least 
promise of an acceptance of their services, and they 
shoulder heavy valises with a gallantry that testifies to 
their competence. This done, they protest with raised 
tones and folded arms against any remuneration when you 
arrive. No, no! A trifle perhaps upon your departure. 
They rely upon your honorable memory for that, but now 

271 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

— absolutely nothing. Thus do they eliminate any inter- 
loper who might meanly come between them and their just 
fees. 

The inn occupies the first floor above the street and its 
rooms are as satellites about its important centre, the 
kitchen. Not that the kitchen is large; on the contrary, 
it is uncommonly small; yet so carefully is it adjusted that 
its priestess appears to find it ample. While occupied 
there, she can glance out through a railing of darkly 
polished wood, which forms the upper half of the inner 
partition, and thus command the series of dining-rooms 
that diverges from it. To the right of her, a small square 
one; to the left, another; in front, a larger one, leading 
to the largest of all which lies transversely to the first 
three. Yet in spite of all this space, I never saw during 
my visits more than five people at a time partaking of 
meals. No doubt on market days the long tables are in 
use, on ordinary occasions a pair of young officers may per- 
haps be descried sipping wine in the room on the left, 
while on the right a customer of humbler rank bends above 
a dish of macaroni, and apart, in the large salay still an- 
other couple chats while awaiting the preparation of a 
special dish. But beyond the rooms mentioned there is 
still another smaller and choicer. Here an oval table 
stands and a sideboard holds the best glass and china. 
In this exclusive apartment were we served, and content 
should be those who partake of the cooking of Signora 
Clementina, and enjoy the caressing ministrations of her 
little daughter Lorenzina, a soft, attaching creature with 
the sweetest of warbling voices. Arriving late and un- 
expected in the midst of the Pieroni family, I am tempted, 
as an example of its resourcefulness, to give the menu of 
the dinner served to us an hour later. Beginning with 
anchovies on toast, it proceeded through clear soup, risotto, 
roasted kid and pigeons, artichokes and potatoes, fruit 

272 




Pitigliano. Porta Sovana. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

and green almonds, to brandied cherries and coffee, all 
admirably prepared. 

Whatever changes Pitigliano has undergone in the last 
three centuries, its streets have not lost their look of 
antiquity nor have all reminders of earlier times disap- 
peared from the buildings. The loiterer in its network 
of byways, for example, comes occasionally upon an amus- 
ing inscription Hke the following, in the Vicolo Venezia. 
Over an arched entrance is a coat of arms in high relief 
and the name MEO. Beneath one reads: — 
Ama Dio 
E NoN Falire 
Vive Allegro 
Ellasa Dire 
with the date, May eighth 1500. 

Now and again one pauses before a fifteenth century 
doorway whose frame shows charming Renaissance 
mouldings. As for the interiors of the houses, I never met 
a professional guide in Pitigliano, but if the traveler shows 
the sympathy and appreciation he feels for their city, 
he is made welcome by the owners to enter those houses 
that contain relics of the past existing in corners of once 
proud palaces. In one such is a fine mantel and above it a 
Piccolomini coat of arms, both executed in many-tinted 
enamel. Among the houses that hang upon the verge 
of the cliffs there is one heavily arcaded, which was 
an Orsini palace and upon the inner side has a grandiose 
gateway. Its stately windows have been filled in, its 
spacious apartments divided, and who knows how many 
families of humble workers now nest there. 

Of such workers, that portion employed in agriculture 
has, as may be imagined, a long and difficult journey to 
reach the cultivatable land, and consequently donkeys that 
are used in the fields abound inside the town, as well as 
in those primitive stables before described that are hol- 

273 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

lowed in the rock. It is as well, therefore, not to count 
upon undisturbed slumber late in the morning, for the 
laborers of Pitigliano are thrifty, and by sunrise the tramp 
of their feet, their shouts, and the sonorous lamentations 
of their donkeys fill the air. It is a pity that nature has 
seen fit to limit the donkey, a being of so many good quali- 
ties, to a mode of expression which indicates despondency 
or complaint even though he may be in the best of spirits, 
but so it is. One morning as I strolled toward the many- 
winding stairway that leads downward from the Porta 
Capo di Sotto, a donkey's head emerged briskly from an 
arched window just at my shoulder and a vociferous and 
prolonged salute followed. Startled but flattered at this 
greeting which I was about to appropriate I soon saw my 
mistake. From a similar opening on the opposite side of 
the street the head of a second donkey shot forth and long 
and loudly made response. Lorenzina, who was my com- 
panion upon the walk, broke into merriment at my sur- 
prise and informed me that this exchange of amenities 
took place regularly each day at the same hour. 

We continued westward to the Porta di Sotto, most 
picturesque and fantastic of portals, and, then returning, 
traversed the town again with windings and loiterings to 
the eastern gate, for it was ordained that on this particular 
morning we should visit the site of that bridge over the 
Prochio, of gruesome memory. Crossing the channeled 
isthmus we turned abruptly to the left and after a little, 
abandoned the road to walk down a slope toward the cleft 
through which the Prochio drops to the River Lente. 
Lorenzina being rather a helpless and uninformed guide, 
we were presently bewildered among steep descents, 
clumps of wild shrubs, and terraced vegetable beds. In 
any small perplexity of this kind it is well to have recourse 
to a small boy. Little boys in Italy as in other countries 
are compendious sources of local information, however 

\ 274 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

forgetful and indifferent they may become when older. 
Coasting a small farm house we came. upon one. Could 
he, I asked, show us the remains of the Orsini bridge which 
must be close by? 

"Where he killed his wife?" was the instant question. 

"Yes, where he killed his wife." 

He led us through the wet herbage, by way of more 
cabbages and artichokes, to the spot. We stood looking 
down. Deeply, damply profound is that narrow chasm. 
One broken arch of its bridge remains. Trees cling to 
the margin and slender ferns drape its sides. Of the water 
darkling below one sees little, only hears it boiling and 
gurgling, toward the series of leaps it takes in its down- 
ward plunge. 

On the way home our conversation led to the discovery 
that Lorenzina had never traveled abroad, that is to say 
beyond sight of her native Pitigliano. 

"Not even," she added wistfully, "to Sorano. I should 
like to see Sorano." 

It was not that Lorenzina was querulous or found fault 
with destiny, but she felt her outlook upon life must re- 
main limited until she had visited Sorano, seven miles 
away. As we talked the rain was falHng, but it became 
my fixed determination to remain in Pitigliano long enough 
to carry Lorenzina on a sunny day to see her Carcasonne. 
And indeed no one who has beheld the wopderful little 
place can ever forget it, though for very different reasons 
from those that inspired Lorenzina's ardent wish, for 
it is one of the memorable towns of Italy in more than 
historic interest. 



275 




SORANO 



CHAPTER XVI 

SoRANO 

YING northeast of Pitigliano, Sorano 
was the refuge, then virtually invul- 
nerable, to which the Orsini hastened 
when their capital became for a time too 
hot to hold them. Wondrously, dar- 
ingly picturesque it is to the traveler 
coming suddenly upon it after driving 
over a country somewhat tame in com- 
parison. The eye dwells upon it with 
delight and one exclaims " Surely the finest study of roofs in 
Italy ! " Roofs of every irregularity and every inclination, 
diverging, approaching, concentrating, and springing to a 
new level for every few feet, while over all spread mingled 
tints of orange and terra cotta with garnishing of green 
where here and there veritable hedges of tiny blossoming 
plants take possession of the eaves. The road introduces 
one to Sorano at a point where, high upon the right hand, 
looms the sharp angle of its fortress, presenting a pompous 

276 





Sorano. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

coat of arms of great size, while below, upon the left, the 
crowded mass of its dwellings lies in the dip of a saddle 
which at its opposite extremity terminates in the upward 
sweep of a ridge of rock, shaped like a mighty wave turned 
to stone at the moment of breaking. 

The hand of man has leveled the crest of this titanic 
wave and made of it an airy piazza approached by a 
narrow staircase, but I suspect little frequented, for the 
inhabitants evidently prefer the sociability of the streets 
below, where the houses stand shoulder to shoulder crowded 
upon the edge of a precipice that at this point overhangs a 
deep ravine. At the bottom of this ravine flows the 
River Lente which lower in its course helps to isolate 
Pitigliano and here washes the boundaries of Sorano on 
three sides while from its opposite bank rises another series 
of cliffs that are perforated with curious openings, Etrus- 
can columbaria, now literally the abode of doves who nest 
there and enliven the ancient sepulchres with their cooing 
and fluttering. 

Hollowed at the base of these cliff's are great vaults that 
have been fashioned with real architectural beauty. This 
was the more easily accomplished that Sorano had the 
advantage of possessing a local stone, soft and easy to 
excavate, but hardening later. In these secret chambers 
lie aging choice white wines, the pride of the countryside. 

Everywhere the heights and depths are green with 
trees, shrubs, and festooning vines, and bits of cultivation 
fill every fissure or pocket of soil among the rocks. It is a 
long way down to the river bank following the crooked 
paths by which one at last arrives there, but the descent 
is most rewarding. A warm, sheltered nook it is, full of 
the fragrance of wild flowers and the song of the hurrying 
water, and when one looks up, far up, at the town and 
castle suspended above one's head, it is fairly startling, 
so unreal, so vision-Hke do they appear. No one should 

277 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

visit Sorano in haste, it is too curiously interesting, too 
pictorial, to be slightingly treated. As my visits to it 
were made by daylight I cannot say how well one might 
sleep there, but the small inn looks possible and I can testi- 
fy that it affords a good meal. We inquired there for 
directions to the high-hung piazza and were told how to 
procure a key, which it seems is necessary. Upon appli- 
cation the key was handed over, and the handsome youth 
that produced it at our request then joined us in a de- 
tached sort of w^ay, and we climbed the steep street and 
steeper stairs that took us to the top together. There 
was a slight stiffness in his manner, but whether it was 
occasioned by the consciousness of being conspicuously 
well dressed, for it was Sunday, or whether by a desire to 
repel condescension I could not make out. We talked 
gravely of the marvellous situation of Sorano, of the 
incomparable outlook, of the general picturesqueness. 
Then we spoke of the castle. He remarked shyly and 
interrogatively, "They tell me there is not a finer castle 
than ours in all Italy?" 

"You are not far wrong," said I. 

He flushed, and turning so as to face me more directly 
said eagerly: 

"You have traveled much in Italy perhaps, Signora.^" 

"Yes, I have, but I have yet to see a more massive 
fortress." 

His eyes sparkled, he smiled and looked over at the 
huge bulk of the castle with repressed exultation. The 
ice was now broken, we chatted easily, but our subjects 
had little to do w^ith the past. The castle as a present 
possession, lending importance to the town, gave him satis- 
faction; about its history he was vague. He admired 
the flagrant new villa which has been constructed in one 
of the castle courts, and evidently regarded it as an 
embellishment of the highest type. Before we left the 

278 




Sorano, from the River. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

piazza I noticed that the floor of it was entirely irregular 
as it followed the outline of the rock it covered, further- 
more it was bounded by a solid parapet with no openings 
for drainage during the winter rains, therefore it must 
become a shallow lake. As underneath this floor the rock, 
somewhat porous, was hollowed out for dwellings, the con- 
sequences seemed inevitable. 

"Does not the water percolate through to the rooms 
below.?" I asked. 

"Oh, yes, but we place large basins under the leaks," said 
he contentedly. 

As we descended and threaded the streets toward the 
castle we looked into the church but did not linger for it 
was uninteresting and disgracefully dirty. Farther on I 
stopped for a moment before an open door, noticing within 
a typical example of the focolarey the important hearth- 
stone and centre of the ItaHan home. A pleasant-faced 
woman came forward and I praised it. She begged me to 
enter. "We are poor, very poor, Signora, but you are 
welcome to come in if there is anything here to see." It 
was a neat little place, a model of condensed housekeeping, 
the focolarey the bed and the dining table were all present 
but as well disposed as might be for space. I stopped to 
look from her window, for to stand there was to poise Hke a 
bird in mid air; the wall of her house met the edge of a 
cliflF, a hundred feet below shone the river, and above and 
beyond lay such beauty as to glorify the most meagre 
dwelling. She eagerly indicated points of interest and, 
as is the custom, we united in agreeing that the fresh air 
afforded by this position was unparalleled. As to the 
focolare, we discussed its completeness. It was deep, it 
was wide, several members of the family could sit in it 
most comfortably; besides the usual bench on the left 
there was upon the right a wider seat with a back and this 
had been extended into the room and, by means of short 

279 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 




The "Focolare" 



legs within and long, well-spread ones without, was admir- 
ably firm. The tops of the andirons were fashioned into 
baskets to hold sauce-pans, and below the hearth a large 
drawer for keeping food hot could be pulled out; last touch 
of all was a little window cut through the chimney toward 
the best light. Each contrivance was explained with 
pride to my appreciative attention and then We parted 
with the amenities proper to the occasion. Her speech 
was charming and she had all the ready and courteous 
friendliness of the best Tuscan peasantry. These wayside 
acquaintanceships are so pleasant that one would like 
them to be less brief. 

The castle of Sorano surmounts a splendid ledge more 
than a hundred' feet above the town. To explore and 
understand it, it is well to begin at the south portal which 

280 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

bears above it the grandiose coat of arms, florid but beau- 
tiful, that combines the Aldobrandeschi lion with the 
Orsini rose. Outside it is a deep moat now Hned with 
grass and shrubbery so that you may see the fine outward 
curve of the foundation once concealed by water, carved 
out of the solid rock for a height of some fifteen feet and 
enriched with a heavy moulding where the stone block 
construction begins while the castle, accommodating 
itself to the outline of the summit it stands on, fills it by 
throwing out two sharp-angled bastions to the right and 
left of the entrance. Before you is the bridge across the 
moat, once a drawbridge, and above it the protecting 
tower. With its mighty bulk aloft there, planted upon 
the living rock, and its prodigious walls, it looks Hke what 
it is, a splendid survival of that old feudal power that 
lingered so much longer here in the Maremma than any- 
where else in Italy. Small wonder that it was looked 
upon by the Medici as one of the most desirable fortresses 
of the south and that it was called "the sulphur match of 
the Tuscan wars." As I stood gazing at it and thinking 
about its fearsome past, I saw the head of a donkey emerge 
upon my side of the moat. With a last effort he brought 
himself and his burden over the edge and stood still to rest. 
He bore a small mountain of green grass securely lashed 
to a pack saddle and behind him walked a stalwart, hand- 
some old woman. We saluted and I, still under the spell 
of the sixteenth century, began to praise what was before 
us. She frowned and glancing disdainfully about her 
said: 

"But what a miserably ugly place is Sorano, SignoraT* 
"How can you think so?" I exclaimed, "I admire it 
greatly." 

Scornfully she replied: "It is ugly. I was not born 
here, not I. I was born in Montepulciano," and with a 
slight inclination she urged on her donkey and left me as 

281 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

one of too low standards to be conversationally worth 
while. 

Feeling rebuked yet clinging to my own opinion I crossed 
the bridge and passed through the first gate, for there are 
two here with a big barrel-vaulted chamber between. 
In the ceiling of the latter is a convenient opening for 
pouring boiling oil or melted lead upon the heads of the 
unwelcome. Through the second gate one comes out 
upon the first courtyard and observes how well defended 
was the fortress of Sorano, for beyond this lies another 
moat, another drawbridge, and another tower. 




A Street in Sorano 
282 





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Sorano. Portal of the Castle. 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

This central tower is the oldest and looks its age. From 
the slits in it the scowling face of Niccolo IV must often 
have looked down. In the ferocious struggles he kept up 
successively with his father, his brother, and his son, 
Sorano was the lair he sought when he met disaster. In 
this fortress, garrisoned and provisioned, he could wait, 
chafing and furious, while he malignantly plotted the 
future. Opening on this second court-yard, which is of 
great size, were the dwelling quarters, and though many 
changes have taken place one can still find here a graceful 
balcony, there a bit of fine arcade leading to one of the 
stately staircases that Niccolo, who was a great builder, 
was fond of. At the top of one of these there still remains 
a door with beautiful mouldings, above which his name 
is carved. The municipal hospital occupies space here 
and also a showy palazzo in glaring contrast with the 
antiquity about it, which causes one to sigh that the mod- 
ern owner cared so little to harmonize his building with 
that of the past. 

Passing on we reach the side of the castle which com- 
mands the town and again are amazed at new and vast 
spaces. A numerous garrison could be housed here, such 
as the turbulent Orsini needed, and one smiles to see that 
not a point was left unguarded, a precaution well taken by 
those bears' whelps, for whatever threatened from without, 
there was the ever-present danger that their own towns- 
folk, tormented beyond the point of endurance, might rise 
up against them. Thus on this side there are three portals 
well gated and with the advantage of steepness between, 
for from the last of these there descends the precipitous 
ramp which zigzags by steps and inclined planes to the 
level of the town far below. The vast wall spaces of this 
facade are finely weathered, a few small modern windows 
pierce them but inconspicuously, bits of marble have been 
irregularly inserted in the tufa, and tufts and fringes of 

283 



BYWAYS IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY 

wild growth decorate the whole. As I think of the beauty 
of it and the memories it is rich in, my thoughts persis- 
tently revert to gentle Lorenzina because after I had dis- 
covered her secret desire the clouds would not lift, the 
rain never ceased to fall, and I was obliged to take leave 
without affording her the enriching experience of a visit 
to Sorano. Fortunately she knows not that she came 
even so near to achieving her ambition, but in my mind 
it remains as a liability, a lien upon the future. 



1 




284 



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293 



INDEX 



INDEX 



Abbadia San Salvatore, 127, 128; 
141 to 150 

Abbadia Spineta, 129, 219 

Accesa, 153 

Adimari, Gianozzo degli, 247 

Adrian IV, Pope, 128 

Agostini, Rosata, 260 

Aldobrandeschi, 12, 30, 36, 37, dlS, 
72, 81; 122 to I2S; 151, 167, 238, 
241, 246, 247, 254, 258, 259, 281; 
Aldobrandino, il Conte Rosso, 246 
to 248; 259; Guglielmo, 81, 85, 
259; Margherita, 246 to 250; 259; 
Omberto, 81 to 85 

Aldobrandino di Bonifazio, 259; il 
Conte Rosso. See Aldobrandeschi 

Alvaro de Sande, 1 16 

Amasia, 39, 41, 44 

Amorosa, 196 

Anastasia, 259 

Andrea di Niccolo, 89 

Angelis, Luigi De, 194 to 196; 199 

Angevins, 247 

Ansedonia, 51 

Ansuini, 55 

Antonino, Fra, 226 

Antonio, Fra, 138 

Arcidosso, 145, 150; 158 to 167; 168 

Ardengheschi, 12, 30, 87, 173 

Areodeno of the Red Beard, 46 

Arezzo, 185, 188, 196, 222, 231; 
Bishop of, 225 

Argonaut, Telamon, 45 



Aristotle, 195 
Amo, 172, 207 
Asciano, 222, 225 
Assisi, 196 
Asso valley, 97 
Astrona valley, 210 
Aurelian, 244 
Avignon, 139 
Azzo of Grosseto, 247 

Badia a Spineta, 129, 219 
Baglione, Adriano, 201, 292; Guc- 

cio di, 13s to 137 
Bagnolo, 156 
Baicche, 93, 94 
Bajazet, 39 

Baldassare Peruzzi, 197 
Barbarossa, 128 
Bargagli, 20 
Bargagli Petrucci, 194 
Bartolo di Fredi, 86, 89, 123, igo 
Bartolommeo da Miragna, 23 1 
Barzellotti, 145 
Basil, 59, 60 
Beccati Quello, 207 
Beccati Questo, 207 
Belforte, 6 

Bella Marsilia, 37 to 45 
Benevento, 247; Girolamo di, 97, 

240 
Bentivoglio, 1 10, 1 13 
Berardenga, 183, 222, 225 
Berardo, 222 



297 



INDEX 



Biagini, 55, 57, 59, 60 

Binduccio, 250 

Biondino, 179 

Bcxrcaccio, 30, 130, 199 

Bocchegiano, 7 

Boniface VIII, Pope, 199 

Bonizella, Beata, 231 to 233 

Borbone, 145 

Borghese, 202 

Bostichi, 171 

Bourgogne, Countess of, 134, 135 

Brescia, 260 

Brigata Godereccia, 227, 228 

Bruscalupi, 260 

Buonconvento, 95, 114 

Burana, 51 

Cacciaconti, 2CX>, 222, 225, 226, 227, 

228, 231 
Cacciaguerra, 225 
Campagnatico, 81 to 86; 125 
Campiglia d'Orcia, 126, 218 
Campiglia Marittima, 29, 31 
Cangenova Salimbeni, 20 
Capalbio, 51, 63, 74 
Capraja, 173 
Casentino, 70 
Castel del Piano, 167 
Castello di Notte, 173; di Pietra, 

24 to 27; 32; Monteregio, 11 
Castiglion-Bemardi, 32 
Castiglione della Pescaja, 31 to 35; 

d'Orcia, 115; 121 to 125 
Castro, 55, 56 
Castruccio, 88 
Cavallotti, 9 
Celestine II, Pope, 127; III, Pope, 

259 
Cellere, 54, 63 
Centorio, 37, 44 
Cesarini, 150, 154 



Cetona, 121, 125, 210, 215, 216 
Charles V, 102, 103, 109, 116, 260, 

265 
Charles of Anjou, 246, 248, 249 
Chartri, Maria de, 135 to 137 
Chateau Cambresis, 132 
Checco Bello, 67, 68 
Chiana. See Val 
Chianciano, 204, 205, 206 
Chiappino, Vitelli, 131, 132 
Chiusi, 142, 180, 194, 196, 205; 206 

to 210; 218 
Chiusidino, 4, 5, 6, 16 
Ciampoli, 164 
Citta della Pieve, 208 
Civitavecchia, 29 
Clement IV, Pope, 248 
Cluny, Abbot of, 199 
Cola di Rienzo, 138 
Colle, 247 

Collechio, 36, 37, 38 
Colonna, 32 

Company of the Hat, 198 
Constantinople, 39, 45 
Conte Rosso, 246 to 249; 259 
Corsini, 52 
Cortona, 212 
Cosimo I, 16, 20, 88, 102, 109, 114, 

IIS, 116, 120, 124, 125, 131, 132, 

133, 188, 191, 193, 229; 267 to 

270 
Cosimo II, 162, 163 
Cosimo III, 149 
Cozarelli, 89 

Daniele, 139 

Dante, 26, 81, 85, 151, 196, 227, 

259 
David Lazzaretti, 145, l6x 
David of Sovana, 247 
Decameron, 130 



298 



INDEX 



Dennis, 47, 206, 209 
Diocletian, 18 1 

Ebreina, 146 to 149 
Elba, 7 

Ensamples of Fra Filippo, 259 
Etruria, 210, 225 

Etruscan columbaria, 277; tombs, 
209, 210, 212 

Fanelli, 211 

Famese, 56; Duke, 270; Prince, 

269 
Fighine, 216, 217 
Filippo, Fra, Ensamples, 259 
Fioravanti, 55, 62, 63 
Forsythe, 220 
Fratta, 196 
Frederic II, 241 
Fucini, 28 
Fungai, 190 

Galleti, Gino, 150 

Garfagnana, 173 

Garzia di Toledo, 103, 104, 107, loS, 

125, 201 
Ghino di Tacco, 130, 199 
Ghinozzo of Sassoforte, 151 to 

154 
Giacomo, Fra, 195 
Gian Francesco, 260 to 269 
Giannino, II Re, 134 to 140 
Gianozzo degli Adimari, 247 
Gigli, 136 
Giordano, 104, 106 
Giotto, 196 

Giovanni di Paolo, 231 
Girolamo di Benevento, 97, 240 
Gisla, 225 
Gregory IV, Pope, li; VII, Pope, 

244 



Grosseto, 28, 31, 34, 51, 74, 81, I42, 

167, 173, 247, 258 
Guidoriccio da Fogliano, 88 
Guise, Duke of, 117, 120 

Hat, Company of the, 198 

Henry II, 109, 115; III, 246, 248; 

Prince, 248, 249 
Hildebrand (Gregory VII), 244 
Hills of the Wind, 51 
Horace, 217 

I. H. S., 10 

Ildibrandino Cacciaconte, 225 
Ildibrandino of Montisi, 227 
Innocent VI, Pope, 139; X, Pope, 

55 
Ipolito Tolomei, 20 
Isabella Orsini, 269 
Istia d'Ombrone, 74, 8 1 

{ 
Janizaries, 39 to 43 
Jeanne of France, 134, 137 
Joanna, Queen, 141 

Ladislao, King of Naples, 1 30 
Lazzaretti, Davide, 145, 161 
Leopoldo I of Tuscany, 31, 33, 85, 

211 
Lippo Memmi, 123 
Lodovico of Hungary, 139 
Lorenzetti, 123, 183 
Louis X, 134 

Lucignano, 180; 187 to 192; 193 
Ludovico, Emperor, 88 
Luigi de Angelis, 194, 195, 196, 199 

Magliano, 65 to 70; 153; Piombo 

of, 66 
Malavolti, 124 
Manciano, 55, 167, 234, 235 



299 



INDEX 



Manente, 205, 2 1 1, 212, 214 

Manfred, ico, 247 
Marciano, 109, 180; 191 to 193 
Maremma, 28 to 31; 47 to 49 
Margherita Aldobrandeschi, 246 to 

250; 259 
Marignano, 88, 109, 112; 191 to 193 
Marius, 238 
Marruca, 30 

Marsili, 36 to 39; 45; Nanni, 38 
Martini, Simone, 88 
Martinozzi, 230 
Massa Marittima, 4; 7 to 17; 46, 

250 
Massaini, Palazzo, 200 
Medici, 116, 132, 148, 149, 194, 229; 

23s; 267 to 271; 281. See 

Cosimo 
Memmi, Lippo, 123 
Mendoza, 102 
Menichetti, 55, 57 
Minucci, 72 

Mirandola, Count of, 193 
Mohammed, 39; the Conqueror, 

38 
Mojane Castle, 219 to 222 
Monluc, Blaise de, 109 to 120; 192 
Montalcino, 95 to 120; 121, 131, 

132, 193 
Montaperti, 100, loi, 102, 123, 129, 

180, 181, 247, 259 
Montarrente, 4 
Montauto, 234 
Monte Amiata, 70, 74, 97, 115, 121, 

122, 125, 141, 149, 150, 161, 166, 

167, 203, 246, 258, 263 
Monte Argentario, 46, 49, 50, 51, 

67 
Monte Cetona, 205, 208, 217 
MontefoUonico, 196, 222, 223, 224 
Monte Labbro, 161 



Monte Leone, 125 

Montelifre, 222, 229, 230 

Montemassi, 24, 88 

Montemerano, 235 to 238 

Montepulciano, 119, 121, 124, 194, 
196, 197, 205, 208, 281 

Monte Vitozzo, 259, 263, 267, 270 

Montfort, Guy de, 246 to 249; Si- 
mon de, 246 

Montiano, 153; Poggio di, 36 

Montichiello, 200 to 204 

Monticiano, 6 

Montisi, 222; 224 to 227; 229 

Naples, 51, 108, 149; King Ladislao, 

130 
Napoleon, 51, 219 
Neroccio di Landi, 68, 184, 224, 

228 
Niccolo III, IV. See Orsini 
Nicholas III, Pope, 259 
Nicolosi, 236, 246 

Onano, Duke of, 163, 164 
Orbetello, 31, 46; '49 to 51; 52, 67, 

234 

Orcia. See River, Val 

Orsini, 198; 253 to 270; 273, 275, 
276, 281, 283; Alessandro, 270, 
271; Ceccolo, 198; Celestine III, 
Pope, 259; Gian Francesco, 260 
to 269; Giovanni, 259; Isabella, 
269; Niccolo III, Count, 254, 260, 
262; Niccolo IV, Count, 260 to 
270; 283; Nicholas III, Pope, 259; 
Orso, 260; 268 to 270; Romano, 
259, 260 

Orvieto, 8 1, 205, 220 

Osservanti, 97 

Otto, Emperor, 87 

Otto IV, Emperor, 128, 227 



300 



INDEX 



S, 12, 13, 30; Ilde- 
Nello, 26, 27, 73, 



Paganico, 81; 86 to 94; 125 
Palazzo Massaini, 200 
Palmieri, 28 
Pannocchiesch 

brando, 5; 

250 
Pecci, 125, 228 
Pecorai, 199 
Pelagone, 234 
Pereta, 70 to 74 
Peri, 161 to 165 
Perugia, 188, 197, 207 
Peruzzi, Baldassare, 197 
Pesa, 100. See River, Val 
Petriolo, 196 
Petrocchi, Luigi, 15 
Petrucd, F. Bargagli, 194 
Philip II, 116 
Philip V, 134, 137 
Pia Tolomei, 26, 27, 73 
Piancastagnajo, 143 to 150;' 157 
Piazze, Le, 216 
Piccinino, 46, 235 
Piccolomini, 125, 232, 273 
Pienza, 116 to 120; 125, 196, 2CX), 

201, 203, 222 
Piero Cento-Scudi, 212 
Piombo of Magliano, 66 
Pisa, 13 

Pistojese, 48, 70 
Pitigliano, 241, 249; 252 to 275; 

276, 277 
Pitiglio, 258 
Pius II, 130 
Pliny, 241 

Poggi di Montiano, 36 
Poggio Santa Cecilia, 184, 185; 

Strozzone, 270 
Port Ercole, 51 
Prata, 7 
Provence, 140 



Radicofani, 121; 125 to 134; 141, 

203, 213, 218, 219 
Ranieri, 48: 222 
Rapolano, 180, 183, 184, 185 
Re Giannino, 134 to 140 
Redi, 193 
Repetti, 29, 46, 97, 187, 201, 241, 

251 

Rienzo, G)la di, 138 

Ripa d'Orcia, 122, 178 

River, Albegna, 46 to 51; 70, 74, 
79> 259; Arbia, 100, 180, 182, 191; 
Amo, 207; Astrona, 210; Bruna, 
27, 32; Castrione, 71; Flora, Jli 
253; Guecenna, 220; Iris, 41; 
Lente, 253, 274, 277; Magra, 29; 
Melata, 253; Merse, 4, 6, 172; 
Ombrone, 35, 36, 70, 74, 81, 86, 
93 > 97> 122, 172; Orcia, 121 to 
125; 141; Osa, 35; Paglia, 131, 
141, 213; Prochio, 263, 269, 274; 
Santa Flora, 51, 253; Scanna- 
gallo, 191; Tiber, 141, 207, 260; 
Tresa, 200; Ucellina, 36 

Robbia, della, 74, 133, 154; Andrea, 

97 
Rocca d'Orcia, 122, 124, 125 
Rocca Tintinnano, 122, 124, 125 
Roccaccia, 55 
Roccalbegna, 74 to 79 
Roccastrada, 16; 22 to 24 
Roccatederighi, 16; 18 to 22 
Rocchette di Fazio, 79 to 81 
Rome, 48, 63, no, 123, 138, 164, 

196, 207, 246, 258, 260, 269 
Rosata Agostini, 260 
Rossa, La, 37 to 45 
Rosso, II Cbnte, 246 to 249; 259 
Rozelana, 38 to 45 
Ruggiero di Loria, 249 
Rustum Pacha, 40, 42, 43 



301 



INDEX 



Saint Ansano, l8o to 183; Bran- 
dano, 10; David, 161; Galgano, 
5, 6; Mamiliano, 244; Satan, 244 

Salimbeni, 19, 20, 124 

San Ansano, 180 to 183; Antimo, 
9S> 965 98 > Bernardino, 250; 
Bruzio, 69; Casciano de' Bagni, 
217, 218; Galgano, 4, 5, 172; 
Gimignanello, 185 to 187; Gio- 
vanni d'Asso, 222, 223; Robano, 
37; Salvatore, Abbadia, 127, 128, 
141 to 150 

Sande, Alvaro de, 116 

Sano di Pietro, 236 

Santa Cecilia, Poggio, 184, 185; 
Fiora, 72, 145; 150 to 157; 158, 
167; Fiora, Counts of, 23, 167, 

258, 259 
Saraceni stemma, 204 
Saracens, 29, 234, 238 
Sardinia, 29 

Sarteano, 210 to 214; 215, 218 
Sassetta, 6 
Sassoforte, 152; Ghinozzo of, 151 

to 154 
Saturnia, 238 to 240; 258 
Scannagallo, 191, 193, 194 
Scansano, 74, 167 
Scarlino, 31 
Scerpenna, 234 
Scialenga, 185, 186 
Selim, 39, 45 
Selvi, Ser Fabritio, 145 
Semifonte, 98 
Seneca, 195 
Sforza, 154 

Shepherds of Maremma, 47 to 49 
Sighele, 53 
Signorelli, 190 
Simone Martini, 88 
Sinalunga, 180 



Singing of May, 155 

Sorano, 256, 259, 262; 265 to 270; 

27s; 276 to 284 
Sovana (Suana), 241 to 251; 258 
Sozzini, 193 
Spadacorta, 225 
Spadalonga, 225 
Spanish Presidio, 47, JO 
Spannocchi, no, 112, 113 
Spedaletto, 127 
Stagira, 195 

Strozzi, 109, 114; 162; 191 to 194 
Suana, 241. See Sovana 
Suleiman I, 38 to 44 
Sulla, 238 

Tacco, Ghino di, 199 

Talamone, 45, 46, 67 

Tederighi, 19 

Telamon the Argonaut, 45 

Tiburzi, Ji; 52 to 64 

Tintinnano, Counts of, 124; Rocca, 

122, 124 
Toledo, Garzia di. See Garzia 
Tolomei, 19, 135, 137, 138; Ipolito, 

20; Pia, 26, 27, 73 
Tornaquinci, 181 
Torrita, 180; 194 to 199 
Tosco, II Gran, 81, 259, 281 
Totila, 207 
Trasimeno, 222 
Trebbiano wine, 193 
Trequanda, 222; 230 to 234 
Triana, 167 to 171 
Tri-Tri, 177 to 179 
Tyrhennian Sea, 3 

Uberti, Fazio degli, 196 
Ucellina, 35, 36, 37, 45 
Umberto, King, 32 
Urbino, Duke of, 198 



302 



INDEX 



Val d'Amo, 172; d'Asso, 97; d'As- 
trona, 210; di Chiana, 115, 179, 
187, 194, 196, 197, 199, 204, 212, 
217, 219, 223; d'Elsa, 172; di 
Merse, 172, 173; d'Ombrone, 97; 
d'Orcia, 97; 121 to 126; 219, 223; 
di Paglia, 144, 200, 21 3; di Pesa, 
100, 173, 181 

Vecchietta, 123 

Venice, 139, 260 

Vescovo, 125 

Vetulonia, 31, 32, 66 



Via Aurelia, 34 

Via Francigena, 98, 123, 259 

Villani, 99 

Vinta, Francesco, 268 

Violante, 185 

Visconti, 30, 126, 218 

Vitelli, Chiappino, 131, 132 

Viterbo, 54, 63, 248 

Volterra, 94; Bishop of, 5 



Zeangiro, 39, 43 



303 



DG Hooker, Katharine (Putnam) 

^^ Q/ways in southern Tuscany 



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